The Bacon Conundrum

Are we the first generation to actually think we will beat death? Do we believe that if we do everything possible to keep ourselves alive as long as we can we’ll be around when the cure for death is discovered and live forever?

This smacks into reality when we consider whether or not we would want to be doing, what we are doing now, for eternity. If this day-to-day existence is the only one we will ever be able to experience, is it worth prolonging? Q examines this question on Star Trek repeatedly. What is there to do once you’ve done everything? In one episode, a Q choses to die just to end the boredom of living forever and being omniscient.

But I digress, regulations with the sole function of increasing your life span are very much in our awareness at the moment, because of the bacon conundrum. It was one thing when it was just smoking. All of the ex-smokers hated anyone smoking and all of the helicopter parents felt the risk of a whiff of smoke, when entering a building, could doom their babies to poor health and artificial voice boxes. But now, we are talking about ham at Sunday dinner, pepperoni pizza and bacon and eggs. All but the strictest vegetarians among us partake.

However, if regulations are justified to limit the habits of smokers, to keep them from harm, similar laws will need to be applied to smoked meat products. Age limits on purchases and warnings with graphic photographs, for instance. Possibly restaurants that serve these implicated foods will require identification before entrance, if public consumption is allowed at all.

Will you have to show ID to purchase a pepperoni pizza? Does this mean that we’ll now be seeing colonoscopy photos of cancers on packages? Perhaps post surgery depictions of abdomens when the guts needed to be removed. Same level of risk, same requirement for equal legislation.

Or could we possibly, look at the absurdity of the above and recognize that both bacon and smoking have no redeeming qualities other than enjoyment? And before someone jumps up and says, “second hand smoke”, second hand smoke is NOT as dangerous as bacon so the rules can apply to bacon without suggesting that second hand smoke needs to be treated the same way. In other words, the “risk” presented from second hand smoke is less than the risk from the consumption of cured meat products.

Could we all come to grips with the fact that we are all going to die? Yes, even you. There is more to life than avoiding death. Enjoyment of bacon, for example. Living causes death. Regardless of what you do, you are going to die. Get over it.

For all of the “harm” smoking was doing, it gave people a break in their days. People congregated for a drink and that often included a smoke as well. People went outside purposefully to smoke creating an opportunity to get up and go out. It was a very social activity. Now, you can’t even smoke alone in parks. But you can eat bacon.

No one has ever bothered to explain why, despite the fact that they smoke and eat processed meats, both Spain and France have longer life expectancies than we do. True story. So what’s up with that? Could it be that consuming these products is not the defining issue about how long we live?

If regulations are there to enhance our health, shouldn’t enjoyment of life and being social factor into the equation? Being social has been shown to enhance your life expectancy beyond any other single factor. Smoking was one of the things that people did when they were together. Now, the bingo halls, legions and bowling alleys are almost all gone. Did we enhance the life expectancy of this group of smokers by socially isolating them?

It could be argued that bacon has less value in that it is not generally done in groups. It is less familiar to hear someone say, “lets go out and eat bacon together. ” or ” meet me for some smoked pork belly” but I digress. There is no question that it is delicious. But leniency on the rules cannot be argued because it brings people together. Smoking did.

Not surprisingly, our casinos have never been big hits. If you are going to fly to a city to go to a casino, you are not going to fly here. Many other casinos allow you to smoke and drink. There is a recognition that not everything has to be about prolonging life. Many cultures actually relax and enjoy themselves without obsessing about all of the ‘evil’ out to kill us.

But, health considerations, specifically what you consume, (not how you live) have trumped all others. Lung cancer victims, especially those that have never smoked, are treated as pariahs. Everyone knows that smoking causes lung cancer so if you have it you are guilty of indulging in a socially unacceptable activity no one shows you mercy. Truth is, many of them have never smoked. Turns out smoking is not the ONLY cause of lung cancer. Go figure!

Increasingly, in light of our war on smokers, we will have to face the reality that many of our friends and relatives, who have never smoked, will die anyway, often of what used to be referred to as natural causes. Treating all death as a pathology that could have been prevented allows us to believe that we are the generation that will beat this and live forever, if we just make enough laws about how people can behave. Perhaps we should be rethinking all of this.

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