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Monday, May 14, 2012

Nobody deserves that

I looked online at a video for the stop-smoking campaign, wanting to read the background. This video featured Terrie, a once-lovely woman whose health, face, and voice have been ravaged by the effects of smoking and the treatment for cancer that had resulted. In spite of the pretty blonde wig, she looked like she was in her late 80s. She's 51, seven years younger than I am. Her skin has shriveled into deep wrinkles. She has lost all her teeth and her lower jaw has nearly disappeared. She has a stoma (hole) in her throat and can barely speak, in a voice that's barely human. She must have spent her 40s going through hell, her looks disintegrating in years she still should have looked young.

When I read the comments, I was appalled. So many people wrote that she had done this to herself, that she deserved it.

This woman wasn't a pedophile or a serial killer. She hadn't tortured anyone. She smoked. That's all. A nasty habit, to be sure, but not deserving of such punishment. Many people smoke and have anything from no side effects at all to relatively mild ones. Others, like her, like my father, suffer the harshest of consequences. Why did they "deserve" that fate while others who committed the same "crime" got off scott-free?

The people who write that are indulging in a typical human response. They think, she did something bad that I don't do, so she deserves her fate and I won't have to go through that. They also get to deride her and feel superior.

Well, think again, you self-righteous snots, and grow some compassion. It, or something equally bad, can happen to you whether or not you did anything to "deserve" it. I never smoked, never chewed, and was never more than a social drinker, but I got oral cancer anyway. Not long ago, a famous children's book author, fat and sedentary, dropped dead of heart failure. So did a locally famous marathon athlete. My father ate lots of fried food, smoked unfiltered cigarettes, and died at age 60. Linda McCartney, vegetarian, died of cancer at 56. A famous nutritionist of the 1980s died at 60 also. My chronically-overweight grandmother lived to 87.

In other words, there are no guarantees. It's a crap shoot. It's Russian roulette. You can increase your odds of living longer by healthy habits, and you can decrease them by unhealthy ones, but when it comes right down to it, you don't get a guarantee either way. You can eat everything healthy, you can exercise regularly, never smoke, never drink, and still have a time bomb in your body that you know nothing about until it kills you.

Nobody deserves to die young, regardless of what they did or didn't do for their health.

Everybody dies.
No exceptions.

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