April 4, 2010

The other day I was pausing in my car before heading to another errand and noticed a young man getting into the car next to me. He left the door open while he squeezed something into his hands. I realized he was pouring a hand sanitizer product into his palm and fiercely working it into both hands.

I was  momentarily impressed, for lack of a better word, that he was practicing good hygiene. Until I turned back toward him, moments later, to catch him lighting a cigarette and closing his car door.

So, I wonder, how did he get into the routine of purchasing one of these anti-bacterial products, cleansing himself, and thinking he’s preventing exposure to germs? Did his wife or mother force him to this? And is it the cognitive dissonance factor which precludes his awareness that cigarette smoking is far more dangerous to him and his family?

It reminds me of one of my favorite stories to tell. Years ago I had to pick up mail from my old apartment and the pregnant wife wanted to show  me all the changes she and her husband had made to the townhouse. Fixtures in the bathrooms and kitchen had been modernized, new carpeting, and a room all fixed up for the new baby. I noticed the garden area between the living room and the outside garage had been dramatically altered. The lovely rose bushes had all been removed. When I inquired she told me they were concerned about the rose thorns for the new baby.

One third of the living room was occupied with a massive flat screen TV and entertainment center; the room was not very large so it was a bit overwhelming. Another good portion of the room had a huge cabinet which I wasn’t sure was metal or some other material. I asked about it and was told that her husband, a prison warden, stored his gun collection in the cabinet.

And so…this story for me represents all the weirdness of human beings. I’m not going to dig up statistics but I just wonder what the numbers look like for children hurt by rose thorns and children hurt by guns in the house.

Why do we have some behaviors and take action to fiercely protect ourselves while ignoring other behaviors and actions that may have a far more deleterious impact?

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Glass Half Full with Leslie Krongold, Ed.D. © 2018