Alcohol. Always bad. Always a habit. Always out of control. Always ruining households.
Smoking. Always bad. Always disgusting. Always can be stopped. Easily. You just need the willpower.
A lot of people think this way and I suppose many do have their reasons.
I know I have made my fair share of comments on people who chew tobacco.
Then I got to thinking about it.
It is a product ( Much like food)
We ingest it, inhale it or chew it.
It has an affect on our bodies.
It has an affect on our minds.
What is so bad about it? As in morally. Not physically.We all know the ill effects of tobacco and alcohol on the body in large quantities. We also know the ill effects of butter.
What I mean is why are we so judgmental? Why do we turn up our noses over a man who’s having a glass of scotch at the end of a long hard day? Why do we grumble about a man who’s working 18 hours a day having a smoke?
If we have to condemn every action that leads to an unhealthy body why don’t we condemn those who eat in spite of being grossly overweight?
Obesity is a disease – just like cancer or cirrhosis of the liver. Probably a bigger killer than the other two. Moreover cancer is not always preventable. Obesity related diseases (theoretically at least)are.
And yet a man/woman stuffing himself/herself silly is not subjected to any looks suggesting they are morally empty. No shaking of the heads with disgust.
If we are talking about excesses.. why don’t we wrinkle our noses over men/women who insist on dieting to the point of madness to maintain an unnatural and unreal weight. A woman refusing to eat rice in spite of looking like she’s about to faint may be the butt of our jokes but certainly not our condemnation!!
Because we recognize obesity and anorexia for what they are. We understand that multiple factors are involved. That it is not just a physical thing. It is also mental. We understand that sometimes in spite of trying their best people don’t lose weight. We understand that food is necessary to some people as comfort.
It is not always possible to control a habit. It requires understanding friends and family. It requires an iron clad will. It requires a supportive environment. It requires discipline.
I do not mean to wave a flag to promote all bad habits. I would still encourage the stoppage of tobacco. But I think we have to have a little more empathy and a little more sympathy.
We need to realize that it is not always bad. It is not always easy. It is not always so simple.
Just because you didn’t get sucked into the vortex of tobacco at the age of 17 ( when you don’t know how to refuse your peers) – you have no right to be so judgemental about someone who did succumb. You cannot wrinkle up your nose.
I know a man who’s smoking four packets a day. His 12 year old committed suicide a year ago. Would you still find him disgusting because he doesn’t know how else to numb his pain?
I know a guy who’s drinks every single day. Always in control. Always well behaved. Always courteous to friends and relatives. Always laughing and joking. Healthy as a horse. Is that still disgusting?
More than the derision what I find amusing is the way we consider ourselves superior to them.
‘I don’t drink’ is said with the upturned chin and the air of an army General who says – ‘I fought for my country and lost a leg.’
‘I don’t smoke’ is said with the indignant tone of a nun who’s being offered a cigar.
Making the choice not to drink or smoke does not martyr us.
It just means that of all the vices in all the world we have chosen not to succumb to two.
We probably still gossip or cheat or steal or abuse or overeat or lie or hit or over sleep or never exercise or torture animals or don’t pay taxes or wash our underwear every alternate week.
So the next time your friends are saying cheers and you are nursing your nimbu paani… say cheers along. Don’t sulk and for god’s sake don’t count how many drinks they are having!!!
Drop the supercilious air.
You have your vices too. And they are probably more off-putting.