By Lethbridge Herald on December 8, 2023.
It’s the holiday season. Eat and drink and be merry. No matter how different our traditions are, we enjoy the bond of family and friends that bind us as the members of one human family. We are not alone. It would be a sad day if I had to celebrate with just one same kind of people.
Life is wonderful but finite. It’s why we make so much fuss to stay well so to keep enjoying what we have until we don’t. I am grateful that I’m alive and kicking after ninety some years of wear and tear.
The fact however is I am getting on though I ain’t “broke.” I need no fixing. Aging is not sickness. It’s a natural process. Thank you very much Yogi Berra.
Keeping myself healthy means less work for my spouse. Government spends less tax money on me, too if I’m trouble-free. A message to conservative friends, “If you want less tax and a small government, keep yourself healthy.”
So I take four kinds of prescription pills every morning. In the evening, three kinds of vitamin. I take painkillers only when chronic pain is really bad.
I watch food I eat carefully and limit alcohol intake to an absolute minimum. I swim three times a week. No other creature goes through such trouble. Prophet Isaiah said that in the perfect world the death of 100 years old is considered premature. That’s a good benchmark.
All life-forms instinctively know what’s good for them. Plants grow toward the sun without guidance. Horses know where to find salty rocks to lick. Ants know where sugar is spilt.
However, when they cannot find what they crave they cannot concoct it. But humans can. When animals see what they crave, they don’t know when to stop eating it even if it kills them.
I once saw a dead wild pig with a bloated belly after eating too many acorns under an oak tree. So exercise moderation. Know when to stop. Go easy on that dessert. Don’t drink and drive! In North America, the biggest killer now is obesity: Heart disorder used to be the biggest killer. We are eating ourselves to death. Pleasure has turned into a curse for lack of self-control.
Humans have also discovered and can produce what’s pleasing to sense and taste as well as what cures.
Arabs have qat, Ethiopians coffee, native South Americans coca, West Africans cola, Asians along Silk Road opium.
All over the world alcohol is made from all kinds of starch. They comfort and delight our weary bodies. They are good stuff. But there is a pitfall.
Excessive consumption of any of those delights can cause serious harm if you don’t know when to stop. Every comforting and stimulating substance must come with warning.
The current opioid crisis began in doctors’ offices as prescription pain killers because there was no caveat. So now governments are suing pharmaceutical companies for billions of dollars because they did not warn of its addictive properties.
Most of the living organisms know how to survive consuming necessities and taking the remedy for ailment. Many of them also know what’s pleasing to touch, sight, and taste.
Humans perfected the arts of producing things for pleasure and cure. We also know that any of those substances can be harmful. It can cure or kill depending on the amount of intake. Most of those good things are beneficial when taken appropriately. They can also be harmful when taken excessively. Even salt can kill so can sugar, certainly does alcohol. But they are also good. Opium was a favourite recreational beverage in 19th century England. Charles Dickens took it, as did Conan Doyle and many other famous people. The British Empire waged war against China to keep the door open for the opium trade.
The key is to know the limit. Most of the animals do not know it. They kill themselves by consuming what is pleasing without restraint. The problem is humans know how to resupply beyond the natural limit. It is the cause of the current opioid crisis.
Opioid is a medicine as a painkiller if taken appropriately. However some of us turned blessing into curse. We do it with alcohol, and we do it with carbohydrate and with other blessings of earth. Obesity is now the number one killer overtaking heart disorder. Food is killing us.
Humans have freedom to go beyond what nature supplies. So we must exercise responsibility to benefit from freedom.
One side of the coin is freedom and the other side responsibility. A legend has it that a Chinese emperor was presented with a rice wine for the first time. He said, “This is delicious! I never tasted something so pleasing. But it can destroy a nation.”
I wish you a happy season of holidays! Let’s not turn it into a curse.
Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui