Saturday, December 15, 2012

Old Warrior Syndrome

I have been wanting to do this rant for a while, but needed an anchor to illustrate it. This morning CBC's The Current provided it. A well meaning anti-tobacco activist wants to remove Santa's pipe from the classic poem "The night before Christmas". What's next? No more smoke from the Shire for the hobbits? Remove scenes from old movies where lighting a cigarette for a woman becomes an erotic gesture?

This is a classic example of a phenomenon I call "Old Warrior Syndrome". The syndrome can be found in any movement that has achieved most of its goals. 

When people have devoted much of their life to a struggle they may not want to give up the good fight. It has given meaning to their lives. Once the battle has been won, what's next? I wonder if the flood of adrenaline one feels when outraged can become addictive. 

All too often Old Warriors just carry on fighting, looking for fresh reasons to be outraged. This goes a long way to explain the excesses of political correctness, or the flood of pink ribbons that litters the landscape to raise awareness of breast cancer. How much more aware can we get?

The anti tobacco movement has achieved most of its goals. Smoking is just not socially accepted anymore. It is banned outright indoors pretty much anywhere in North America. Now the warriors want to ban the enjoyment of a cigarette on a park bench or beach.

I can see the point of not littering a sandy beach with butts, but that can be solved by demanding smokers take their butts with them, much like people have learned to scoop up after their dogs.

Meanwhile city traffic goes on unabated past the now smoke-free park bench. I will take a second hand whiff of nice fresh tobacco over car exhaust any time.

Suggestion to Old Warriors anywhere: your energy is needed. Please, pick a fresh battle. 

For the record: I have enjoyed cigarettes and the odd cigar or pipe in the past. My body quit twenty years ago. But I remember the pleasure of a good smoke with fondness, and refuse to turn into one of those puritanical born-again anti smokers.


Tint~ said...

Ien, I'm a rabid anti-smoker. I've always hated it, but recently, I found myself hanging around smokers whose smoke didn't smell as vile as I remembered it. I think I was just appreciating being able to smell it while in clean, clear surroundings. I totally understand what you're saying though. Enough with the campaigns. I'm tired of seeing ribbons. The pink ribbon is meant to remind people to check. No one, but no one checks when they see a pink ribbon.

Let Santa keep his pipe. At least he's smoking tobacco, not the chemicals they put in cigarettes.

Piper's Pal said...

Hi Ien:
I've taken to referring to such people as True Believers - the extremists on opposite sides of issues who are really more alike than different in their certainty that their points of view are the only ones that are valid. They seem to be incapable of quitting until(which doesn't usually happen)they get everything their own way.

Praise the deity(or whatever)that most Canadians are reasonable and capable of empathy and compromise.

Ien in the Kootenays said...

You are both reasonable and tolerant people....