Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Societal Smoke-screen

I was at a local mall this evening with my wife and daughter, shopping for a pair of shoes for our wee lass. En route to a bank machine, I passed a tobacco shop. Based on the latest Alberta legislation, shops are prohibited to display tobacco products, and therefore must keep them under cover. The premise is if people can't see power walls of cigarettes, that younger people will be less inclined to take up smoking. So, when you look into a shop such as the one I passed this evening, you'll see a counter, then cabinets and curtains concealing all of the nasty cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco. This particular shop had large black curtains, resembling pictures of Muslim women wearing burkhas, or perhaps a modern art depiction of Death –apropos of smoking I suppose…

…but here's the kicker: this particular shop had a few glass display cases. In these cases, for all to see, were a plethora of hash pipes, bongs and other drug related paraphernalia.

In my opinion, this shop is a metaphor for our society here in Canada. It is a society of bandwagon causes and turning blind eyes to inconvenient truths. The fact is Canadian society is riddled with such contradictions and hypocrisy.

So, let's begin with smoking. We've banned it everywhere and taxed it death in hopes of pressuring people to quit. The goal, which I applaud, is for better health. The thing is, in my opinion, smoking is the only valiant vice out there. Some smokers die earlier, thus easing the cost of pensions, etc., pay extra taxes to cover some of the health care costs and are now forced to do their thing away from those who don't partake, eliminating the effects of second-hand smoke.

Can we say the same of fast food? How much will super sized meal deals and 99¢ value menus cost our healthcare system in the forms of heart disease and cancers? We don't allow people to purchase cigarettes if they are under 18 years of age, yet we allow this crap food to be marketed and consumed by children who (a) don't know any better and (b) are in the formative years of their life in terms of physiology and habits.

The big argument against various societal ills lie in their propensity to cause heart disease and cancer, or the potential to cause harm to others. The thing is, we make our case with validity against smoking, while simultaneously genetically modifying and chemically treating pretty much every bit of food that we consume. If we are ingesting toxicity with every morsel and mouthful, why is it that we only attack a select few things? The answer is simple convenience. If we were sincere about health concerns, then governments and courts would ensure that corporations stopped putting chemicals in our food. The fact is our society is toxic – period. Cancer is such a prevalent disease because our environment is poisoning us. People are reeling against lead paint in toys fabricated in China. Honestly, if you are living in a city full of cars, factories and whatnot, will a bit of paint with lead really make that much of an impact on the life of you and/or your loved ones?

Our way of thinking is both limited and skewed. Hash pipes and bongs on display, while cigarettes are hidden away. We have free needle exchange centres for drug addicts, yet make diabetics pay for their own needles so that they can inject life saving insulin. Religion is banned from our Public Schools, yet we allow celebrations of First Nation's spirituality. Jay-walkers receive $250 fines from Police, while stores rarely prosecute shoplifters due to court time and expense. Convicted pedophiles, rapists and murderers are placed in institutions where they are given three square meals per day, have satellite TV, conjugal visits and access to a gym while honest people working for minimum wage are ending up homeless or living in dwellings not fit for the cockroaches that share the home – the list goes on. Talk about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions! Compassion is important, but so is sensibility!

Our whole healthcare system is misdirected as well. The basis of the system is reactive as opposed to being proactive (smoking being the exception), with astronomical wait times. As well, we seem, as a society, to be very caught up in the quantity of life as opposed to the quality of life. I don't want to live to be 80 if my mind is mush, I'm half blind and shitting myself on a regular basis (sadly, the state will force me to continue living in such condition as euthanasia is out of the question). As well, based on my personal experiences, I know that living "healthy" does not guarantee that you will live both a qualitative and quantitative existence. I want to live a life where I enjoy myself, and to do this not at the expense of others. Life is full of risks and pitfalls, and we must accept that.

I suppose that I don't really have a point here. I just get frustrated when I see stuff like this, and it really is indicative of our present social perceptions. There are so many agendas out there right now and the air is rife with contradictions and hypocrisy. Many would argue that we need to start somewhere, and I suppose that this is true. I guess what frustrates me is seeing things which, in my opinion, are greater social evils being overlooked while we go after the lesser issues. The whole affair stinks.


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