So a few minutes ago, while walking home from the ol’ coffee shop, I passed a local store with this sign out front …
Cigarettes, like climate change, are awful for us. There are, literally, no redeeming qualities. Cigarettes cause cancer and about 100 other diseases and maladies. They turn fingers and teeth yellowish brown. They make you smell awful, and—come winter—you’re the fool standing outside the building in 15-degree chills, puffing away. Cigarettes are awful by all measures, and this is undeniable.
That said, places like my local store sell them. As do most drug stores. And supermarkets. They sell and sell and sell—knowing many of the customers are addicts who will die of cancer because of repeated purchases.
So why are cigarettes still here? Why don’t retailers—in the name of the common good—cease peddling them? Answer: Because cigarettes make money. And while my nearby store surely gets some dough via sales of Nestle bars and envelopes, the owner needs the $10-a-pack revenue. So he sells them and sells them and sells them, and hopes people come in by the droves to buy. Hence, the sign.
The common sentiment is, “You can’t begrudge the store owner, because he has a business to run and a family to feed.” And maybe this is true. But I do begrudge him—because, at some point, someone has to stand up and say, “No. No, no, no, no, no! I’m not benefiting off the ruination of others! I’ll find another way …”
Enter: Climate change. The planet is being destroyed. It’s obvious, and 98 percent of accredited scientists seem to agree. This is no liberal hoax. No Al Gore scare-a-thon. It’s real, it’s dangerous, it’s horrible news for our future kids and grandkids and great-grandkids. We, however, refuse to do a damn thing. It’s too inconvenient; too expensive; too uncomfortable; too demanding. We tell ourselves science will ultimately figure it out. Or we listen to Sean Hannity (expert of loudness) scream away our terrors. We pass the buck, because it’s easier to pass the buck than accept responsibility.
Ultimately, this provides some short-term happiness.
Ultimately, this offers grave regret.