I have adopted this blog title from the Jewish mother-in-law who asks, “What Am I, Chopped Liver?” If you are unfamiliar with the question, the Ask the Rabbi website opines, “As far as I know, the origins of the phrase are not Yiddish; I believe the phrase was originally coined in America. Being that chopped liver was always considered a side dish and not a main course, the phrase is used to express hurt and amazement when a person feels he has been overlooked and treated just like a ‘side dish’” (emphasis added by me).
I have appropriated the phrase to make the point that we, the type 2 diabetic PATIENT, are left out of the discussion, and the treatment plan, by the medical community. We are treated like a “side dish.” And it’s our own fault. We have left our health care to “the professionals.” After all, they’re the “experts.” They went to school to become health care providers. They go to annual conventions for continuing education from doctors paid by the pharmaceutical industry to tout their newest products (and play a round or two of golf). They get visits at the office from pretty young things who give them free samples of BIG PHARMA’s latest FDA-approved drugs. Get the picture?
We are also impressed with how, when doctors speak, they emote with such authority on every subject related to our health. If you’re lucky, that is. Some doctors play it very close to the vest. They say very little. They’ve got so little time. But, as far as I’m concerned, the big problem is that they have the wrong message, at least with respect to diet. But they’re got their backs covered. The DGA, created by HHS/USDA (think AGRIBUSINESS), tells them it is okay for us to eat 50% to 60% of our diet in the form of highly processed and refined carbohydrates And NOT to eat saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Well, they’ve got it exactly backwards. It’s the liquid fats (“vegetable” oils) such as corn oil and soybean oil – the damaged, oxidized Omega-6 industrial oils - that are killing us. See the AGRIBUSINESS connection?
This Wendell Berry quote seems apt here: “People are fed by the FOOD industry, which pays no attention to HEALTH…and are treated by the HEALTH industry, which pays no attention to FOOD.” Shades of Hipocrates.
The disconnect in this quote resonates with me. I’ve re-read it many times. Do you see a syntactical thread that makes these opposites the same: Both clauses use the passive voice; both use a form of the helper verb “to be” (“are”) with a past participle (“fed” and “treated”). The passive voice is used where the emphasis is meant to be placed on the subject. The recipient of the action (“People”), rather than the “agent” (FOOD or HEALTH Industry) of the action, is the subject.
Wikipedia has a good explanation of the use of the passive vs. the active voice in English.
“The principal criticism against the passive voice is its potential for evasion of responsibility. This is because a passive clause may omit the agent even where it is important… However, the passive can also be used to emphasize the agent, and it may be better for that role than the active voice, because the end of a clause is the ideal place to put something you wish to emphasize, or a long noun phrase, as in the examples given in the previous section.”
“Don't you see? The patient was murdered by his own doctor!” (Wikipedia’s emphasis)
Don’t you love it? You can’t make this stuff up, folks. That really is the Wikipedia example for use of the passive voice.
So, putting these two things – dichotomy and passive voice – you get both the mutual exclusivity and contradiction required for dichotomy with the emphasis on the agent of the action in UPPERCASE at the end of each long phrase. It takes good writing skills to make memorable quotes, and Berry has them.
I’m afraid the “fix” for the problem that Berry points out so eloquently is out of reach. The relationship between the FOOD and HEALTH industries, and the central and terribly misguided role of government in both, is beyond repair.
The only “fix” that I see that will affect our personal health and wellbeing is to extricate ourselves from the passive voice. We can do that by not “being fed” and not “being treated.” We can take the active role. We can feed and treat ourselves. When we reverse these positions, we no longer are beholden to the FOOD and HEALTH industries to tell us what to eat and how to take care of ourselves. We will no longer be “a person (who) feels he has been overlooked and treated just like a ‘side dish.’” We will no longer be “chopped liver.”