I've made no secret of the fact that reading the USA Today is my favorite way to wind down the day. Those black and white pages take me all over the world, offering me news and human interest stories, the obvious and the obscure...and, of course, an opportunity to exercise my brain cells by tackling the crossword puzzle. I'm all for high tech in most areas of my life but I don't see me giving up my oversized newspaper pages without a fight. I love it...and I always learn something too.
Like how a woman in New Zealand died from an addiction to Coca Cola. Well, that's what the headline would have you believe anyway. Sounds more like something out of one of those trashy tabloids you see at the grocery store check-out stand than one of some national prominence. You know...like how Bigfoot kidnapped a lumberjack as his sex slave or how Hillary Clinton adopted an alien baby. Who buys those things anyway? But I digress.
The story about the New Zealand woman's death was true; she passed away in 2010 but it was newsworthy now because the coroner had just released his report. In it he attributed her death to the consumption of large quantities of Coca Cola. Large quantities as in more than two gallons per day. Every day. That's 4,000 calories per day from sugar alone, not to mention the amount of caffeine. Couple that with her other unhealthy habits such as smoking 30 or more cigarettes per day and eating very little and it's easy to see how this lifestyle would take a toll on her body. She was only 30 when she died from a heart attack.
While I feel sympathy for this young mother's family, I'm left shaking my head at the coroner's suggestion that Coke needs to add a warning label about over-consumption of sugar and caffeine to its soft drinks. A warning label? Who doesn't know that you can't live on Coca Cola alone? We're warned to death already; what we really need is some personal responsibility.
Shifting the blame to someone else has reached epidemic proportions these days. If a child struggles in school, it must be the teacher's fault. If a favorite sports team looses, the officials must have blown the call. We've become a nation, and maybe even a world, of finding someone else to saddle with the blame for outcomes we don't like and especially for ones in which the blame might squarely belong on our own shoulders. It's easier, I suppose, than accepting the fact that we made poor choices or didn't do all that we could to bring about a different result. And it's a trend that shows no signs of slowing...unfortunately.
Don't get me wrong...I was raised by lawyers, so to speak, so I'm all for bringing to court those who have injured others by their wrongful acts and sometimes warning labels are just what are needed to alert people to the hidden dangers. I just don't think you need to warn people about trying to subsist on a diet of 2+ gallons of Coke per day. What's next...warning labels on faucets? You can die from over-consumption of water in a specific period of time too, you know.
There's a saying in law that bad facts make bad law. In this case, I think the bad facts would make for a bad warning label. I'm stepping down from my soapbox now...but I'm still shaking my head.