Paranoia will destroy ya.

by K.W. Leslie, 08 June

On those who are constantly wary of unseen dangers.

Today I put Equal in my coffee. As I usually do.

I know: Equal consists of aspartame, plus inert additives to bulk it up. And if some of my friends’ favorite websites are to believed, aspartame will give me cancer. Or (contrary to popular expectation) cause obesity, ’cause my taste buds led my body to expect sugar, and now I’m gonna crave sugar all the more. Or something’ll happen and it’ll shut down my liver or kidneys, or monkey with my metabolism somehow.

Next to the Equal packets, the coffeehouse posts an acrylamide warning—’cause it’s in just about every cooked food, including the stuff you make at home; ’cause businesses are supposed to warn about toxic chemicals thanks to California’s Proposition 65 in 1986; and ’cause lawsuit-happy individuals are going after the restaurants who don’t. So acrylamide is gonna give me cancer too.

As will everything else I eat. Meat and dairy products are filled with hormones, so those are killing me. Vegetables and grains are genetically modified, so that’s killing me. Fats are clogging my arteries; sugars are wrecking my pancreas; artificial fats and sugars are unnatural and therefore toxic. The coffee, despite how much decaf I drink: Killing me. Tap water is full of chemicals; bottled water is full of phthalates. I could try to only eat food from my victory garden and drink rainwater… except pollutants have got into both, and are gonna kill me too. Can’t win.

So I decided years ago I’m no longer playing.

No, this doesn’t mean I’m gonna spend the rest of my days with a cheeseburger in either fist. I’m still gonna practice moderation and all that. But this constant nagging worry that everything I eat is slowly killing me? Everybody dies; life is slowly killing me. And I’m not convinced the worry isn’t gonna speed the process considerably. All those ailments my health-nut friends are blaming on toxins, real and imagined: I wonder how many of ’em are really caused by their immoderate obsessions with wellness.

No, I’m not burying my head in the sand either. Years ago I found out how trans fats clog arteries, so I cut ’em out of my diet. More recently my doctor warned me I was overdoing it on the sugar, so I cut it way back. I do take advice from health professionals. Health amateurs, especially people who wanna sell me unregulated supplements, are another thing altogether. I learned how to do proper research in journalism school; I have zero respect for what they’ve “researched” and “discovered.”

I also point you to people much older than me, who eat far worse than I do. They haven’t been dying, or coming down with debilitating illnesses, any more than usual. If there were suddenly a plague of people dying in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, I might be inclined to pay attention. Instead people are living into their 90s, 100s, and 110s. On a diet of fried foods, salted meats, tap water, way bigger portions than I would think to eat, and way less exercise.

And conversely, people younger than me die of cancer. Because you can eat right, exercise, and die anyway. It sucks, but the world is meaningless like that. And Jesus instructs us to not worry about such things.

Matthew 7.25-30 KWL
25 “This is why I tell you: Stop worrying!
Stop worrying about what your soul would eat or drink, or what your body would wear.
Isn’t your soul more than food? your body more than clothes?
26 Look at the birds of heaven: They neither sow, reap, nor gather into barns.
Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you far better than they?
27 Who among you worriers can add one cubit to their height?
28 Why worry about clothing? Study lilies in the field: How do they grow?
They don’t work, nor spin thread, 29 and I tell you what:
Even Solomon in all his splendor wasn’t clothed like them.
30 If God clothes grass of the field—here today, thrown in the oven tomorrow—
won’t he much more you, despite your little faith?”

Well, these worriers aren’t so sure. So rather than prioritize God’s kingdom and the good news of its arrival, they choose to prioritize their problems, their “solutions,” and their fears.

It’s hardly just food, of course.

Food’s not the only thing my friends fret about. They also worry about the government.

They worry about their freedom to worship—as if anyone in the United States has recently tried to stop ’em from going to church. If the government ever tried such a thing, I expect most of the cops and National Guardsmen would resign in protest. Then again, I expect that if the government tried to clamp down on Christianity. I’m not so sure how much solidarity we’d see if they went after Islam. But even so: My friends worry about Christian persecution, of all things. In a nation where eight out of 10 people figure they’re Christian.

They worry about their right to bear arms, too. As if the government has gone after anyone other than criminals who happen to have guns—much less the gun nuts who seriously need regulating.

They worry about the IRS investigating people because of their politics. That one’s actually a valid concern. But thus far it’s only affected nonprofits who, let’s be fair, do try to slip politics into their activities, despite very appropriate laws against that.

They worry, they worry, they worry. Their favorite news sites stir up these worries too. They wonder whether the End Times and tribulation aren’t therefore immanent. And even if they think Jesus is gonna rapture them out of here before tribulation ever touches them, they still worry about tribulation. Because they’re not as certain about their End Times beliefs as they let on.

I’m not saying “Don’t worry; be happy.” I’m just pointing out Jesus instructs us to not worry, and all their worries prove they’re not following Jesus. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, but they don’t have this fruit at all. On the contrary: They worry every attempt at peace might be a devilish trick. They fight peace.

The more they worry, the more they demonstrate they have a lousy relationship with the Holy Spirit. And the less I should pay attention to them. So I don’t.

Nothing personal, folks.