Tuesday

Smoking and Stuff That's None of My Business


I am one of “those” people, or so I have been told. I make some people feel guilty because of the way that I live. I work out 6 times a week, ran a marathon a while ago, don’t often eat stuff like donuts, candy and cookies and am in excellent health. Last year, on Christmas Day, I hung out with friends, opened presents, ate and then declared that I was heading to the gym and asked if anyone wanted to come. (it was open cause I was in China, not America) People looked at me like I was nuts and asked if I ever took a break. No, I don’t. I like working out and running. I’m disciplined about the way I live and am proud of it. People have sometimes commented, “you keep yourself in such good shape” and things of that nature. One time I responded, jokingly, “Did you ever think that I am just normal, and you were simply in bad shape?” I was kidding and they knew it. I really have no intention of making anyone feel guilty for not working out or eating fast food. In fact, I’m all for those things, even though I would not participate, and that leads me to wonder why some people feel this need or compulsion to regulate others.

Needless to say, I don’t smoke. It’s bad for me. However, I have realized one thing in my life: it’s none of my business if someone smokes or not. I read an article about a new building in NYC and how it banned smoking. It wasn’t a city ordinance, though; the buildings owners didn’t want smoking and made it part of the lease agreement. I was happy because I believe it’s the owners choice to allow people to smoke in the building; after all, it’s their building. You can smoke in other apartments in NYC, just not this one. In Maine, you can’t smoke even in bars, even if the owner and all the employees don’t mind. Who is the government to tell you where you can and cannot smoke? I don’t know of anywhere smoking is allowed in Maine. They are talking about banning smoking in cars and in homes.

There are lots of things that are “bad for you”, like eating at McDonald’s and other fast food places, smoking, soda, drinking too much and all those things that our moms tell us not to do. There are those that support this type of legislation – regulating stuff that is “bad for you”, like trans-fats, coconut oil in movie theatre popcorn and smoking. But I have one question for these "regulators".

Why is it any of your business? Seriously, why? Don’t these people have anything better to do with their pathetic lives other than to tell grown adults what to do? Should some of them know better than to engage in risky behavior? Yes. It is your job to tell them what to do? Last time I checked, no it wasn’t. Why has it occurred to you that you know how to run someone else’s life better than they can? My wife was reading the paper a while ago and mentioned how she agreed with this decision to remove soda from vending machines at schools. She actually thought I would agree. “But you haven’t had soda in like 10 years and say how bad it is for you”, she replied. So? Does that give me the right to start telling people what to do? How to spend their money? Not drinking soda is my personal choice. If someone wants to have soda, why would I care? If someone asked about the negative effects, I sure could tell them, but it never occurred to me to legislate what they do.

Being a “sports guy”, I watch a lot of Fox and ESPN, but I am always confused by organizations like the NCAA, sports writers and reporters who are “outraged” when athletes accept cash or gifts for going to a certain school or their performance? Why? Don’t you get paid for doing your job? These athletes work hard and have lots of talent. Why shouldn’t they be able to have agents, sign endorsement deals and get paid? No one would think twice about a college student, who is good at computers, developing apps for Apple or getting a part time job and making money on the side. Why does it matter for athletes? Every day millions of Americans send out their resumes and offer their services to the highest bidder. Why is it any different in the NCAA?

It bothers me, in case you couldn’t tell. Everywhere I look these days (I haven’t lived here for a while) I see regulation by people who “care” enough to vote for politicians and laws that tell other people what to do. Do they themselves want to be told what to do? No, sir. But they have no problem making rules for everyone else to follow. It’s time we started leaving people alone.

I love this quote from C.S. Lewis. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

It's time to let people live with personal responsibility and the consequences of their actions. I wasn't always in good health. I learned the hard way that my health was my business and nobody else's responsibility. I was the one who had my own best interests in mind. My retirement, health, lifestyle and choices were all mine. It is terrible to give these things (and the resulting consequences) up for the sake of comfort or security. This is the burden of a free society.


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