Obligations

An interesting blog post dropped into my inbox this week that got me thinking. This particular post came in response to a mini Twitter thread (which I have seen, and somewhat agree with). I’m not going to link to either as I’d prefer this post to stand alone rather than be seen as a response to either, although it half is a response.

As noted in the blog post, the upshot of the mini-thread was thus:

“hey, you paid grandee types, please stop telling us, ordinary people who made a choice in our lives to quit smoking via vaping, that we have some obligation to get out there and spread the word, tell our stories, and push back against those other paid grandees who are attacking vaping.”

As the author of said blog post noted, it is a notion worth exploring.

While the author endeavours to build a generalised context, and thus expanding it to cover the concept that some vapers, but not all under varying circumstances; have an obligation to ‘spread the word’.

While there are many vapers that do everything they can to encourage smokers to make the switch, as is their right as defined by their own moral and social code, others tend to take a more relaxed view.

I am, once again, reminded of this post from Clive Bates that references many failings of public health grandees, specifically when engaging (or not, as the case often may be) with those they are tasked to protect – the public in ‘public health’. I, myself, drafted a couple of posts (here and here) in a similar vein. In how I, a member of the general public, had been steadfastly ignored and my general reaction to that was to shrug my shoulders, mutter “fuck it” and carry on regardless.

Previously I did write a (fairly) lengthy post in which I offer my own views as to the actions that individuals can choose to take, but I have never suggested that individuals should do these things. Or anything at all if they want.

While there is the argument, as made by the author of the interesting post, that simply by ‘existing’ (bottom line), then vapers should be speaking up. The “make the world a better place” argument, which I don’t disagree with – let’s face it, there’s plenty that everyone could do to make the world a “better” place, but exactly who decides what is “better”?

That, for me, is the rub. I am not, nor will I ever be, quantifiably qualified to claim that something is “better” for someone, regardless of how well I know that individual or not. That, for me, ranks right up there with making a judgement of someones’ activity based upon my own standard of behaviour, and that, to me, is unjustifiable.

That would then make me no better than the crazies in ‘public health’ that are doing just that with the continued crusade on smoking, the “encouragement” to switch (whether the individual wants to, or not), or the renewed attacks on sugar and alcohol.

Each one is a classic example of “we know what is ‘better’ for you”, and that is the highest level of hubris. No-one can know, except the individual, what is ‘better’ for them.

The best thing that individuals can do is to offer advice – but only if asked. Sure, by all means, beat MP’s and MEP’s and ‘public health’ crazies around the head with the evidence disproving their wild claims about “renormalisation”, “gateways” and the like if that kind of thing floats your boat. You don’t have to do that. I do it* because I’m that kind of individual.

Just be who you are. If you want to do stuff, that’s fine. But don’t do it because someone tells you that you should do it. You are under no obligation to do anything.

*As an aside, I have even less time now which is why this blog (and my general activity) has been so quiet.