So I am really in love for the first time in a while. He’s a radical activist. He’s Mennonite. He’s brilliant. He would probably read and write on this blog if he was from the USA. But there is a big problem, he smokes tobacco (a lot). Or is that not a problem? I need your help, my radical friends…to help me think through the issues of smoking and tobacco usage. I can only really take love advice seriously from people who are in the movement for positive social change…people who understand a deep commitment to values that call us to put our “personal” love lives in perspective with the greater struggle of promotion of love and justice all over the world. I listen to others who I feel are be people of integrity on all levels of life.
What follows is what I think about smoking/what I’m struggling with/the questions I have. Please, if you have any wisdom to share…SHARE IT. As a feminist I am willing to put this out in the public because I do believe the personal is political. And I know that the relationships that individuals have also effect the collective.
I realized again that I’m a “God-geek” when I wanted to know something marriage a few weeks ago and so I looked at C. Arnold Snyder’s chapter titled “Anabaptist Marriage” in Anabaptist History and Theology textbook. My point was to see how these young activists handled marriage in the context of an intense social movement. (It didn’t really help all that much, but I did learn that some women appreciated the relative freedom of the Anabaptist movement to leave abusive and restrictive spousal relationships and that sometimes a married couple referred to each other as “wedded brother” or “wedded sister,” their primary identification was still with the community and with the movement.)
I accept him, as he is, with all his good and bad. But when it comes to having to make a choice about who I want to share intimate spaces with and surround myself with…who I would want to spend the rest of my life with and commit my most broken and beautiful self to, I want it to be a person or people who in all ways strive for and live into health, healing, and wholeness for all of their days…in all ways.
Our bodies are God’s temples. Isn’t smoking/drinking/not exercising etc. a destruction of that temple? As young Anabaptist radicals we both work to protect the bodies of others…advocate for their safe passage between tanks and fences…stop war…How could someone willfully destroy that which is of God when they spend a lot of time trying to build up more of God in the world.
It feels like a contradiction to work in solidarity with others for a better life, but then whittle away at your own life…and if healthcare in your country is socialized, how selfish is it to use up resources that could go to someone else? Those resources could go to someone less wealthy, and someone who didn’t consciously and repeatedly inflict sickness upon themselves.
Or what about the issues with the tobacco companies? Or the land that is being used to grow tobacco for export crop instead of food for residents?
What is it that smoking gives people? Is it not possible that this feeling can be obtained through some other form? Exercise trains the mind and body to respond in the best way possible in a given situation. To calm down…to think creatively…to work as a team…Do I have the right as a potential partner to hold my potential partner to the highest standard? (Or at least the standard that I hold myself to?)
He sometimes reminds me that people have the right to kill themselves. Yes, in secular society, I would agree that you have the right to kill yourself, but I would argue that as a Christian, you do not have that right. Especially if one is committed to nonviolence (he’s a pacifist…doing excellent intellectual work to support radical nonviolent faith-based action in the world). But then, why do violence to one’s self? Smoking is SO well documented to hurt so much of the body…not to mention it puts out 2nd hand smoke and makes stuff smell bad.
If you treat your own body badly, why should I trust you to treat mine well? (Even though he says he will)
Marriage and long term partnerships include compromise. If I am going to give up some of my bad habits then the other person should do the same, right? If we’re not in this together in our struggles and joys and sacrifices (for the benefit of the beloved) then, even though it looks so possible and beautiful, we shouldn’t pursue it.
Help, my YAR friends! Am I off my rocker? Am I being to rough or judgmental? This stuff is hard. I am totally willing to change my views…I just need to be convinced and nuanced. I know I do. For example, since I am really putting myself out there at this point, I might as well say that I think coffee is cheating one’s health too (in addition to the complication of the blood-soaked politics) . It does your body’s work of waking you up for you…often masking unhealthy life rhythms of incorrect rest/busyness ratios…and sometimes creating a dependency/addiction.