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COLUMN: NUMB3RS do not measure merit

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It has come to the attention of the owner of this column that there exist many wrongs to be righted and that I am just the person to do it. So, with that said (and after I’ve jumped out of my phone booth), I present to you the following for your approval…

Numbers suck.

Oh…McDonald…you’ve been running (literally) by the local CBD store and inhaling much too often.

No, no, no. Just wait, hear me out. Eventually, I make it back to my opening thesis, and I can assure you, this column will be no different.

“Nice tights by the way.”

“Thank you, may I continue?”


“Thank you.”

Numbers have various uses in our daily lives. Using numbers, we are able to know what temperature to cook our food, what exactly is our current fiscal situation, how to dress according to the weather and various other uses too numerous to mention.

However, some numbers can hurt or misinform. When we judge a person by their IQ, weight, bank account, etc., does this automatically define the worthiness of a person? I say no.

There are people who placed low on an IQ test, but were geniuses in other regards. Defining someone by their weight, does not determine slovenliness. Judging a person on their bank account, does not mean that they are not rich in spirit. The happiest people I have seen are those who do not put riches or materialism at the center of their lives.

OK, McDonald…this is a lovely monologue, but as always, what is the point?

The point is this, the Body Mass Index measurement is no unit of measure that should be considered in determining underweight, normal weight or overweight.

Last week, I went to my doctor. This doctor was the same one I had for many years. I receive my results in an email and it tells me that, according to BMI, I am obese.

I was shocked, shocked I say.

According to the BMI scale, a male who is 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 160 pounds, like me, is considered overweight.

When I read that report, I was livid. I then went to the BMI website and it said I was “normal weight” but that I was nine pounds away from being obese. Really?

Back in 2018, I was 51 years old, I weighed 265 pounds. I was miserable. I made the decision to make a change. Jan. 24, 2018 was the first day of my new life.

I worked very hard and then, I made another big decision: on Jan. 6, 2020 I decided to quit drinking alcohol…the second day of my new life.

A friend of mine (and father of one of my students) came to me and said, “Let’s stop drinking for 30 days.” I said, “OK.”


Now, knowing my competitive nature, I knew I was not going to break a streak after just 30 days, so as of this writing, I have not had an alcoholic drink in 1,176 days.

Now, I am not a member of the “Temperance League” nor am I Carrie Nation, wielding my hatchet at the bars and restaurants of the community. If you want to imbibe, that is your choice. It took me more than 36 years (I’m a slow learner) to realize that drinking wasn’t for me.

Now, back to my original thesis about numbers.

In my humble journalistic opinion (oxymorons all), exclusively judging a person based on numbers, measurements and equations is not fair. Merit should be the ultimate determination. Lead your life as you choose. After all, we were granted free will by God — how we use it determines merit.

Christopher McDonald is an accomplished educator and military veteran with experience in print and radio. Reach him at cmcdonald@richmondobserver.com.

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