The Power of Snot

Every now and then, we see a baby and I hear a variation on the theme of “Isn’t he/she cute?”. More often than not, I nod my head mutely. What is going through my mind, however, is something along the lines of “Ew. It has snot coming out of its ears”.

Don’t misunderstand me; there is something about small people with big heads and even bigger eyes that brings out the protective instincts in us; that is one of the things that separate us mammals from reptiles, who eat their young without a second thought. That is normal and natural.

The ability for children to produce copious quantities of snot is a source of wonderment to me. But I am not immune; I suffer from a post-nasal drip which gives me horrible breath. The only cure that works is washing out my sinuses. The problem is, the more I do this, the more my sinuses step up their game to compensate. At some point I end up in a battle against something my body naturally wants to do – a battle I am destined to lose. So I have to pick my battles and only treat the problem when I have to, and just “live with it” for the rest of the time.

This made me think about how society solves social problems, such as the abuse of alcohol, drugs, tobacco and sugar (not yet, but watch this space). A century ago, some good and well-meaning people pressured the government into amending the constitution to ban Alcohol. And Prohibition was born. For fourteen years, we lived with Prohibition. The result? Alcoholism went up, and as an added bonus, small-time hoodlums, attracted by the money to be made from the lure of illicit booze grew into the organized crime industry that we know today. In one of the most spectacular legislative U-turns in history, Prohibition was repealed in 1935. We are still living with te consequences of this “mistake” today.

So here we are in the twenty-first century; Alcohol is legal. Drugs are illegal. Tobacco is legal. Firearms are legal, but “Assault Weapons” are illegal. It is illegal to sell a kidney – or sex – but quite legal to give them away – and it is even considered virtuous to do so. Yet the illegal things still happen, and in many cases are growing problems.

The real issue here is that you can’t use laws to prevent people from doing what they have already decided to do. Or, to put it another way…

There is no defense against the power of snot.

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