by David Sisler

Back at 117 Shenandoah Avenue, Mom still laughs about the hot July afternoon 35 years ago, when her first born son headed out of the house and up across Simmons' field dressed in a hunting coat, walking stiff legged. Talk about trying to sneak dawn past the rooster!

"Where are you going?" this 98 pound, anything-but-a-weakling demanded.

"Out," I answered lamely.

"Why do you have your hunting jacket on?" she queried.

"Just thought I'd wear it."

"When it's over 90 degrees?"

"Uh huh."

"What's wrong with your leg?" Mom wanted to know.

"My leg?"

"No, my leg."

"I didn't know anything was wrong with your leg," I tried.

"There isn't!" she said, "but you were walking like you have a cast on your leg, which I know you don't. Or like something is hidden under that coat and down your pants leg, which I highly suspect is the case."

Busted! Cold busted!

I was attempting to sneak my 20 gauge shotgun out of the house for a little target practice. Or it may have been just to shoot aimlessly up into the air and scare Mr. Martin's sheep. I can't remember. Whatever the reason, I tried to do something I knew I could not get permission to do and got caught.

It is either inborn or quickly learned, this desire to get away with something, to do things that we know are harmful, all the while hoping that we won't suffer any negative consequences.

To see just what Americans would chose to do, if they knew that the activity would not be harmful, The Wall Street Journal recently took a survey. Suppose, they wondered, that many of the habits which we now believe are unhealthy were found to be completely safe. How many people would choose to live differently?

As published in a recent edition, here is the simple question, with seven possible answers.

"Which of the following things would make you happiest to be able to do without worrying about the effect on your health?"

*Drink all the coffee you want.

*Get a good tan without worrying about exposure to the sun.

*Have sex without taking safe-sex precautions.

*Smoke cigarettes or cigars.

*Eat all the high-salt, high fat foods you want.

*Stay up late at night.

*Drink all the alcoholic beverages you want.

As one who is always on a diet, it came as no surprise to me that 30 percent of the men surveyed chose pigging out as the number one answer. Forty-five percent of the women surveyed put that answer in first place.

Second for male respondents was the safe sex question, but it ranked next to last for the ladies -- and thereby hangs a tale. It may be violating the current politically correct thinking (and a great deal of it should be violated), but I think that the survey says men may be prone to behave in careless, frivolous fashions while women are looking for something meaningful, something permanent. Granted, that may be a stereotype, but it is the way the poll was answered.

The women surveyed chose safe tanning as their second favorite forbidden for-reasons-of-health activity.

Drinking alcoholic beverages ranked lowest for both groups. Maybe we are showing some common sense, after all.

There is definite evidence from this simple poll that most of us are tired of counting calories and fat grams, and may be returning to bad eating habits. Harry Balzer, a marketing researcher notes that the four fastest-growing food orders in restaurants are hamburgers, french fries, soft drinks, chicken nuggets. When health benefits are seen to be 40 years away, the "now" factor becomes more important.

We know the wrong kind of foods can lead to more problems than too tight clothes, but we still eat them. We know that tobacco does more damage than give us bad breath, but over 25 percent of us still suck death into our lungs, and teenagers by the tens of thousands start every day.

We continue to suntan even though study after study proves overexposure to the sun will kill us. We continue to drink copious amounts of alcohol even though only a blithering idiot would suggest overindulgence does no harm. And despite the sure knowledge that sexual diseases kill, carelessness is once again becoming the rule, rather than the exception.

Tomorrow. That's when I'll start doing things I know are good for me and stop doing the things I know will kill me.

The Apostle Paul spoke one day of spiritual things to a man named Felix. Felix trembled and said, "When it's more convenient I'll thing about eternity. Maybe tomorrow." Felix forgot that sooner or later, for all of us, tomorrow will not come.

You know it is bad for you and you will not stop. You know it is good for you and you will not start. Do you also apply that thinking to Jesus?


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 8/31/96

Copyright 1996 by David Sisler

Your comment is welcome. Write to me at:

Back to David Sisler's Home Page