September 8, 2005
What a waste!
I was sitting on a park bench watching the world go by. I observed a man smoking a cigarette. He seemed to be enjoying it. By my observations this man obviously had very little to his name. His clothes were ragged, his hair was sticking out in all directions, and he smelled. I could smell the smell of no showers, like I smell myself after a hard workout, followed by cooling off then working in the yard, followed by cooling off and repeatedly sweating. I’ve done it for a few days before with no shower. I smelled like this guy. But I could also smell his cigarette, which probably contributed to the smell of no showers.
Regardless, he seemed to be enjoying his cigarette, contemplating life and looking around. I wonder what his thoughts were. He was probably not wondering about me or why I was sitting on that bench watching people. Maybe he was thinking about when he would go take a shower and where. I like observing people because it reaffirms a lot of what I know about life. Then he finished his cigarette and left. I sat there for a half an hour and thought about this man a little, then he drifted out of my mind, like the smell of his cigarette eventually left my nostrils.
Then he was there again, lighting up another cigarette. I couldn’t believe it. I observed this man again, seemingly enjoying another cigarette. I thought, doesn’t this man know that it’s killing him? How smart can he be if he is willingly and deliberately killing himself!? And by the looks of him, he doesn’t need to be wasting his money on cigarettes when he obviously needs new clothes! Cigarettes are so expensive! I thought, “Doesn’t this man realize that he could buy a whole new wardrobe that didn’t have holes in it with the money he would save by not smoking!?” What a waste of money! That’s one reason I don’t smoke. It is a waste of money and a tool for self destruction. Smoking cigarettes is suicide and a waste of life and money that could be used for a better purpose.
As I was thinking these thoughts, it began to occur to me that I should say something to this man. His life depends on it. He is ignorant about life and needs my help. Obviously he could use new clothes and a shower and a place to live. If he would only make better choices, he could have all of that. Smoking is not a good choice in life and I thought it was important enough to let him know. It doesn’t help people to be soft on them. Sometimes they need to know the truth for their own good. So, I went over to him as he was stubbing out his cigarette in the dirt and told him how foolish smoking was. He just looked at me, like he was shocked that I was even talking to him. I don’t know what I was expecting for a response, but he could have said, “Fuck you!” by the look in his eyes. He just said, “yeah I know.” Then he went on with his business, leaving the cigarette butt on the ground. I wanted to tell him to come back and pick it up. Even after I pointed out the error in his ways, he created another error by leaving his poison on the ground to pollute the earth. Not only is he killing himself, wasting money better spent, but also destroying the environment that I share!
After he left I sat back down on my park bench and my eyes kept being drawn to that cigarette butt on the ground. It was a great focal point and kept reminding me of everything that the cigarette-smoking man was doing wrong and how I wished that only he would realize what was happening to him and to everyone around him that had to smell his smoke and look at his butt. I thought, “Next time I see this man, I’m going to have to be more forceful to get my point across.” He did not come back to the park though before I had to leave.
This did get me thinking though on how I could get people to realize how stupid and wasteful they are being. Their money would be better spent on health foods and clothing and other more important things. From now on, I’m going to show people pictures of dying people and blackened lungs then compare that with pictures of clean-cut, healthy, athletic people riding bikes and climbing mountains and living in decent houses. That will obviously teach them a lesson about life and how to better spend their money.
Now, I’m a fairly decent person, well educated, and I care what happens to other people. If I didn’t what kind of a person would I be? I know you think I am being judgmental toward this person, but in the end, I know I am right. I have seen people destroy themselves by smoking and cut 10-20 years off their life when their lungs collapsed and had to go on oxygen, then die of pneumonia in the hospital. And to think of how much better their lives could be if only they would see what I see. In a way I am so thankful for the enlightenment I have gained so I don’t make these kinds of poor choices in my life. I owe a lot of that to my broad education and my willingness to look at myself. That is why I don’t smoke. I am willing to admit when I am doing something self-destructive and foolish and have the ability to fix my errors in thought. This is the product of years of study and hard work and life experience! So even though I might have been a little harsh when I talked to that man about smoking, telling him how bad it was for him and how he was wasting his money and his life, I knew it was for his own good.
Then God spoke to me and said, “Fuck you,” and walked back inside, throwing his cigarette butt on the ground, never to return. “What a waste,” he muttered to himself.
Posted by carl1236 at September 8, 2005 1:57 PM | Love your Neighbor
I am glad you told that man your thoughts on smoking, even though I dont totally agree with them.
Posted by: debbie at September 8, 2005 3:04 PM
I think that whatever you told him provided him with information. But I don't think that information was what he was lacking. I'm basing that partly on his response ("yeah I know") and partly on the dangers of smoking having been promoted so heavily that they're now (I assume) common knowledge in our society -- even in the relatively uninformed portions of our society.
For the most part the missing ingredients for people to make changes go way beyond facts. A few that I find critically important are support from friends, family or a counselor; feeling like there's a reason to care about living longer; and self-esteem to make changes to improve hygiene, health, and happiness. Those are all more difficult to supply than information but have a much bigger impact. They'll probably have other effects that go beyond just the cessation of smoking.
Posted by: Tyson at September 8, 2005 8:07 PM
Substitute 'smoking' for anything you want. That just happens to be a popular hot button right now.
Posted by: John at September 8, 2005 10:28 PM
Well, the men is wasting his time as you said. He had lose the power of self-control and the hope of life. Perhaps, you advice is of little help, but you give it a shot at least.
Posted by: Cliff Kwok at September 9, 2005 9:36 AM
There is also the issue of the need to be right and to judge and control other people's thinking. Where does it end? When everyone believes and has the exact same viewpoint? Who's viewpoint? How do we accept other people for who they are and allow them to make their choices without our condemnation? What if this was someone that was wasting his money on golfing fees when he should have been donating to his church? Or a person having too many children that they can't possibly support to our satisfaction? This smoking man was already classed and devalued in the judge's eyes. No personal knowledge of the individual and his thoughts, hopes, dreams, stuggles and problems was discussed. He was just seen as foolish and lacking the ability to make 'proper' choices for himself. Sometimes our self-centeredness and self-importance gets in the way of how we love another human being. And loving each other and treating each other like we want to be treated is one of the most important things we can do. All of us are dependent on each other and support each other. Even that smoking man or the person spending their money at a casino gambling for instance is part of our lives. Our job is to get to know each other and find a way to love each other even if we disagree with what the other is doing. When we judge and condemn other people we are also doing that to God and ourselves.
I happen to know this man well and he has one of the most loving hearts a person could have. He also has a very old mother who is in poor health that he is taking care of. Sure he spends money on this and other things and smokes and has a drink occasionally. But the rest of his money goes to her. He doesn't buy new clothes and doesn't take great care of himself, but he has a heart of gold. I think he is more 'enlightened' than many people I know. He knows he is going to die just like the rest of us and treats everyone with kindness. A guy like this wouldn't return for more devaluation because who would. Instead of learning to love this person, the judge failed to get to know this person and failed to make a friend and to treat them like an equal. So who's attitude is right? Being right is not always right. Sometimes it is with the wrong intentions or motives and is not right at all, but it is a viewpoint.
Posted by: John at September 9, 2005 5:03 PM
I don't think I've heard anything quite so judgemental and condemnatory since I mistakenly lent my ear to a rather bigotted fundamentalist Christian.
Let people live their lives. Sure, they may not choose to live theirs in the way you live yours but, then, that's one of /benefits/ of not living in a theocracy.
Posted by: Not Responding at September 11, 2005 11:56 AM
Thank you. Very good words. No other person can live our lives for us.
Posted by: John at September 11, 2005 6:14 PM
I agree with you that most people don't really love themselves and they find their stupid ways to destroy themselves not only smoking but also drinking alcohol or some addicted drugs.
My name is Boonlert Saisanit, a Thai Certified Hypnotherapist in Bangkok,Thailand. I help a lot of people to quit smoking. Contact me:Telephone Number (669)-6897287
Posted by: Boonlert Saisanit, C.Ht at October 2, 2005 8:09 PM