Vaping can go
I thought we’d get better, that the world would grow up with me, and that the problems we had when I was a teen would resolve because with age comes wisdom. Then I heard from a group of junior high girls who shared that vaping happens in the school bathrooms.
With all those health talks I heard in junior and senior high school about the proven dangers of smoking, though some of them were boring and dry (okay, all of them where boring and dry), I just imagined that smoking would phase out. Maybe it wouldn’t stop altogether.
Actually, I did hope it would stop all together.
Then tonight, in the aisle of a retail store, a twosome passed and by no choice I just took in this smell. Yep. Cigarettes. The guy in this girl/guy combo wreaked of what I can only describe as a living, moving, breathing ashtray.
The guy was twenty-five. Maybe.
I get addiction. A couple in their mid-seventies were willing to pay their son/stepson the amount of money he spent a year in cigarettes if he would just quit.
He didn’t quit.
I also get the rebel thing, those who say “yes” to anyone who tells them “no.” We all get the “it can’t happen to me” mentality. But why start?
Since I’m not sure how many teenagers will read this blog, I am going for the rest of us and share this hunch. I think self-destructive behavior of any kind comes from a lack of self-worth. Naturally kiddos start with a good dose of healthy ego. (A newborn “chooses” milk, not a few swigs from a Red Bull can, and a two-year-old doesn’t run around hating herself.) A lack of self-worth has to be taught by others.
Maybe adults don’t outwardly dish on their kids, or outwardly dish on their kids all of the time, but if an adult has a systemically painful lifestyle, then the “this is as good as it gets” lifestyle perpetuates not just with the parent, but the child. The prevailing thought that “life is hard and you might as well seek some pleasure from it somewhere” doesn’t begin within a soul; it’s born outside of it.
So, if we want to speak up to vaping, I don’t think firsthand accounts of teens with permanently damaged lungs from vaping is the best course of prevention or abstention. I am not suggesting we stop this momentum, though I don’t know how well this tack works for smokers who hear horror stories from other smokers. I have a different idea.
Let’s speak up to self-worth. And let’s not just speak to self-worth, let’s live (and model) self-worth.
We can take a humanist approach to this. By this I mean we can try to instill healthy virtues to our children (and by our children, I do mean “our children” as it takes a village…). But how far does that go?
There is such a far better course of action. I am convinced if we know how much we are loved by God then our world will be so much different, so much better.
Turning negatives to positives starts with you. Reprimanding the guy in the retail store about the horrors of nicotine will likely go nowhere. Teaching the guys and girls in our lives how much they’re loved by living into the love God gives is not just a goal, it’s a perpetual go-to.
This blog first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on October 9, 2019.