'H' is for Hypocrisy

by Robert Nanninga
, I'm going to go out on a limb. If I offend, tough. Here it is: ALL SMOKERS ARE STUPID. Anyone who believes that consistently inhaling carcinogens is an intelligent behavior has been sniffing way too much glue.
But this is not a column on smoking. Sort of.
Recently, I have noticed the appallingly large number of young people who can't seem to live with out a cancer stick hanging from their lips. Now, I'm sure these people think they look really cool, cutting edge and down right tough. Not true. You look stupid! I am sure there are far cheaper ways to commit suicide, in a fraction of the time.
What does smoking have to do with ecology and the environment? How about everything. Cigarettes are a toxin that you pollute your body with. It seems to me that if a person can not even muster up a bit of concern for their own well-being, caring for the planet as whole would be damn-near impossible.
The fact that our government had to shut down twice due to a budget impasse is at best absurd. Tobacco subsidies are still in place, yet Congress wants to cut funding to health care. Hello!
Recently a tobacco industry executive-turned-whistle-blower, admitted that rat poison was being used in cigarettes. Is it just me, or does that seem redundant?
So smoking is not your vice. How about you Pepsi addicts? Drinking carbonated beverages is equivalent to pouring lye into a river. Instead of dead fish you get a disappearing stomach lining and a thrashed colon. There are those of you who start everyday with an RC Cola or a Diet Coke. Not as foolish as smoking, but just as unhealthy. Can you say 'aspartame?'
If you want an early morning buzz, allow me to suggest wheat grass juice as a natural alternative. If that is a bit too exotic for you, there is always orange juice. Oranges and other fruit come in neat biodegradable wrappers. Soda, on the other hand, comes in plastic, glass and aluminum which must be manufactured. All of this contributes to industrial pollution. Sooner or later, whether they are recycled or not, all consumer products end up in a landfill. Resource to refuse, it's the American way.
The point I am trying to make is that if we are going to make a difference in the war to save the planet, we must clean up our act. Every time a so-called environmentalist buys a pack of cigarettes she is supporting monoculture, not to mention Jesse Helms. Every time an environmentalist opens a can of Coke, he is promoting mass resource extraction, which is already supported by government subsidies. Somewhere some corporate polluter is profiting from your vices.
According to Webster's New World Dictionary a vice is a: 1. serious fault of character. 2. evil conduct; depravity. 3. a degrading habit. 4. a fault, defect, etc.
We all have our vices, mine happens to be "stuff." I love to collect things. Currently, I am struggling with a fetish for CD's. When I was a kid, I didn't get enough stuff, or so I thought. To this day, I am still trying to make up for it. I am proud to announce that I have yet to succumb to the charms of the QVC shopping channel. Is there a Twelve Step program for consumers?
Society has done it's best to addict us to consumption, and I am no different. Television tries to sell us a dizzying array of the unnecessary. Would someone please explain to me the global importance of the Salad Shooter. For those of you who are not familiar with the technological wonder known as the Salad Shooter, and I'm sure there is someone out there who hasn't seen the new and improved Veg-O-Matic working it's magic of convenience. Let me say it is a plastic thing-a-ma-bob for those too lazy to handle a knife.
Human beings are a study in contrasts. Some might say that Americans take that study to new heights. Here in the United States we demand safe streets, yet we drink to excess. Desiring a youthful appearance we bake ourselves in the sun, and coat our skin with goo to lessen the damage. First Lady Nancy Reagan was the perfect example, fighting her war on drugs while taking prescription Valium. Sorry Nancy, a drug is a drug.
We also pride ourselves on quality of life, yet one in four has some form of cancer. I guess quality is relative.
A friend of mine claims to care about the environment, but doesn't consider himself an environmentalist. He is, however, a cigarette smoking meat-eater who worries about air pollution due to a lack clean energy choices. Can you see where I am going with this?
If we want Washington to take us seriously, we need to stop sending mixed messages. If you want to protect America's vanishing wilderness, you as a consumer must give up beef. If not, your Big Mac is going to trample the American west before it reaches your table. If clean air is important to you, carpool or take the train whenever possible.
It is time we started to sweat the little things.
Recently a substance called OLESTRA was cooked up in some laboratory. It's hailed as fat-free, making it ideal for junk food. As human test subjects, we are being poisoned by some mad scientist trying to build a better cheese curl. What is truly alarming is that the FDA is allowing its use in spite of the fact that it causes stomach cramps and diarrhea, while leeching vital nutrients from your system. Does humanity need a synthetic fat substitute? Of course not. What we need is a scientific community dedicated to neutralizing harmful chemicals we have inflicted on ourselves; not creating new ones. If America is craving healthy snack foods let them eat organic fruit and nuts. Is that a revolutionary idea or what?
Saving the world means saving ourselves first!
Pharmaceutical companies want us to believe that only their pills and potions can keep us operating at our utmost efficiency. When I was a kid my mother used to say, "you are not leaving this table until you eat your vegetables." Thank you, mom, for that wise advice. It's a shame it took me 25 years to understand the importance of Brussel sprouts.
Has anyone else noticed the growing market for nutritional drinks? With names like Ensure, Boost, and Suplical, these products are being aimed at Baby Boomers and their parents. The commercials are usually set in some garden, where mother and daughter are drinking their supplement out of a convenient metal container. Hell, Grandma, if you want to prevent osteoporosis use that garden of yours to grow broccoli and cabbage. Health does not come out of a can, a bottle, or any other man made disposable. Health comes from the soil. If more people took the time to grow their own food, maybe they would actually realize what a wonderful planet we live on and stop taking advantage of the limited natural resources.
We have all heard the saying, "Think globally, Act locally." Well, your own body is as local as you can get. Everything you consume is a political act. If we are going to make a difference we must start by taking small steps. By refusing to support industry that is detrimental to our health as well as the environment, we will be sending a message to the puppets we have sent to Washington. If your body is a temple, I would say that God would be hard pressed to find suitable living conditions in America.
This is a personal challenge to any and all of my friends and readers who do not see the irony of washing down organic vegetables with a Diet Coke. Let's all make a stand for the planet and ourselves. Put down the RC Cola, the OLESTRA Chips, and Marlboro and declare your body a toxin-free zone. If you're not up to this challenge, ignore me and belly up to the bar. It was the wise bartender who said "name your poison." Aren't we lucky to have so many to poisons to choose from.

Robert Nanninga is an independent video producer, actor, vegan, San Diego Earth Day board member and active member of the Green and environmental community.