Second-hand Smoke Of The Audible Variety


Image Source (CC0 Public Domain)

There it is in bold print on the boxes of cigarettes that sit on roadside stalls or supermarket shelves:

“Smoking Kills.”

From Surgeon-General’s warning to exorbitant pricing and extremely graphic poster images, efforts to rein in smoking habits abound. We have heard more about the dangers of second-hand smoke in the last 10 years than we heard in the 20 years prior, and the fight is on to give a voice to those who have no voice – children and incapacitated elderly, who are usually unable to choose what takes place in their space.

There is, however, another kind of smoking that kills.

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Is Your Compassion Reserved for the Teary-eyed?

We often rush to sympathise at the first sign of tears. Lend a shoulder, extend handkerchiefs and utter smooth words. Words about silver linings and end-of-tunnel lights.

We lavish our attentions and prayers on the obviously overwhelmed and visibly vulnerable, and we forget that the absence of tears is not equivalent to an absence of pain.


In an age where eyelids barely flicker in the presence of exposure and over-sharing is the order of the day, we tend to pass by that which is not immediately obvious.

This generation rarely asks “How are you?” except in passing, and the speed with which we continue on our way leaves the hearer pondering: “Why.”

No question mark.

Just… why.

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The most synchronized display I have witnessed outside of the Olympics. It was a beautiful thing.

Recently, I stood near the graveside of a woman who had served the Correctional Services Department for many years and observed the funeral proceedings with great interest. It was a sight for sore eyes.

Correctional officers, in full uniform, hitting stride in perfect harmony as they bore the draped casket, containing the corpse of their long-time colleague, to its final resting place. The casket with its pristine finish rested squarely on a human bridge made from pairs of arms outstretched across shoulders, colleagues grasping the shoulders of their colleagues across the way in what could only be described as a hug.

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