Friday, December 18, 2009

Deep Cleansing Breath

I can still remember when, years ago, I turned into my mother. It happened in the midst of dealing with a headstrong, probably twelve years (or more) younger version of today's lovely TeenTuna. After making no progress in the land of reason, and out of much frustration I blurted out: BECAUSE I SAID SO!

I think I may have clamped by hand over my mouth while simultaneously letting out a horrified gasp.

"Because I said so" was the dreaded saying of my youth, and it signified the irreversible end to the conversation. If you hadn't made your point or gotten your way before the "because I said so" gauntlet was thrown, you were sunk, period. Buster.

"Because I said so" spoke volumes in four succinct words. It meant, "As you can tell, I'm not changing my mind, but I'm tired of your a) begging -- b) whining -- c) poking -- d) prodding -- e) nudging -- f) alternate universe of reality." It also meant, "I'm older than you are, I know what I'm talking about and I make the decisions." As annoying as it was to hear the dreaded "because I said so" when you were on the losing end of the conversation, at least it ended things and you knew where you stood. You might not like it, but it allowed you to move on to some other great injustice of youth.

As an adult dealing with adults, there are times when I wish "because I said so" was a socially acceptable phrase. Of course, it's not, because as adults we are allowed to live, breathe and force our opinions and our personally preferred universe of reality on everybody else. In the adult world, "Because I said so" is swapped out with the ever-popular idea of "like it or lump it," or, "you're not the boss of me."  How pleasant.

If we, as adults, all stopped living by the motto of "my way or the highway" perhaps we could take a half-step back from any situation and see it from the other side. How refreshing would it be to check out what's on the other side of the coin? Who knows? It might be interesting. It might be better. At the very least it would be different. But for some (dare I say many?) adults, when it comes to considering an alternative ANYTHING, be it reasoning, viewpoint, philosophy, methodology, religion, or breakfast cereal, it's a Flat Stanley kind of world. There's only one picture, only one way, and there is no such thing as another side.

Here in the great state of the Mitten, we finally, and I mean FINALLY as in SERIOUSLY WHY DID IT TAKE SO RIDICULOUSLY LONG passed a non-smoking workplace law. This means in particular (with a few exceptions for casinos and racetracks) that restaurants and bars will be smoke free. This means I can go have a drink and not come out with burning eyes, sore lungs and stinky clothes. This means I can have dinner in a restaurant and sit anywhere and not worry that I'll be seated at that non-smoking table next to the smoking section that theoretically has a magical invisible barrier that filters out the second-hand smoke. If only that magical invisible barrier worked. Funny, it never does.

Predictably, some are upset about the smoking ban (see: "like it or lump it", and/or "my way or the highway" above). Their argument is the rights of those who inhale carcinogens and force the rest of us to inhale them as well are being impeded. Call me crazy, but I'm really not seeing that as a viable argument. There is also the worry that businesses will suffer because of the smoking ban. Au contraire, I say to that argument as well. In the past I have been much more apt to spend my time and my money in places where I can breathe. I'm betting business with improve, not falter.

In the endless debate of whose rights are more important, I think any reasonable adult would think that the health of the general population is more important than the needs of the individual to pollute the air that all of us breathe. Certainly some will continue to disagree, and that's why we finally have a law. It's the grownup, legal version of "because I said so." It forces some to adopt some manners and change their behavior out of respect and consideration for all.

Mom was pretty darn smart. Sometimes it's the best answer. Sometimes it's the only answer. It's time to move along.

Because I said so.

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