I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up of being told what percentage of us will die of this or that disease. I’m also tired of the mixed messages we are receiving. Today, I encountered a classic example of this. Several years ago, my mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Mum had been a heavy smoker from being a teenager when she worked in the Land Army during the war. At the time of her diagnosis, I asked the hospital consultant who dealt with her if the smoking had contributed to her problems. ‘Oh no!’ he assured me. ‘In fact, all the evidence points the other way. Smoking can actually help people to resist the onset of different kinds of dementia.’
This morning (17/04/08) on the Radio 4 Today programme, there was a news article saying that research now shows that smokers are much more likely to end up with Alzheimer’s than non-smokers. The report also claimed that heavy drinkers (which they defined as people who drink more than two units per day) were also at risk. The last I’d heard, a ‘heavy drinker’ was someone who drank more than four pints (i.e., eight units) per day.
Not long ago, children were eating too much junk food. Now, we are told, they’re eating too many vegetables, and that’s not good for them either. As a matter of course, we are told – almost daily – that the increase in obesity is going to put a massive strain on the health service. At the same time, we’re told with equal frequency that we’re all going to live much longer and the pension funds won’t keep up. And so it goes on. Blah, blah, blah. Part of the curse of Newsak, as the brilliant Macolm Muggeridge used to call it. A constant dribble of twaddle in our ears which works in a similar way to musak, driving us almost to distraction, not to mention helping create a nation of hypochondriacs.
It all reminds me of one of my favourite films as a young man. Perhaps you’ve seen Sleeper? It is a Woody Allen classic. In the picture, Woody is brought out of suspended animation many years in the future. However, as a confirmed health freak, he’s absolutely horrified when, as soon as he awakes, the doctor tries to get him to smoke a cigarette: ‘Smoke this’, the doc says; ‘it’ll do you good.’
It’s interesting that amidst all the constant prattling and mixed messages, there’s never any mention of the fact that human beings are children of eternity. No mention of spiritual wellbeing. The be all and end all of the matter is simply a case of how long we can keep this physical body staggering on. We should all jog around eating spinach (chewing each mouthful fifty seven times) and drinking two litres of water a day for as long as possible. When the final, inexorable decay finally starts to impede our progress, we can then begin bolting or transplanting on new parts to keep us a going concern for as long as possible. After that, who cares? If there’s a God, everyone will go to heaven (justification by death, as R.C. Sproul so aptly puts it). And if there is no God, it doesn’t matter anyway.
Well, whatever people think of the spiritual stuff, I’d like to raise the alarm as far as the physical side goes. I’d like to tell everyone in this confused country what the government – and those boffins at NICE (what a stupid acronym) – don’t want you to know. It’s a vital secret I wish to disclose to you which is of national importance! And here it is: Eventually, everyone now living will die!