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I won’t complain about this turn of affairs, prostate cancer at age eighty-two, but it will take some adaptation. I have been in near perfect health all my life, and my only bad habit was smoking intermittently for several years from about 1955 to about 1975. I say intermittently because I was only smoking about half the time. I would quit for long periods, sometimes for over a year, and many times for over a month, but I must admit now that I was addicted to smoking. And because I know that I am addicted I will not even take a single puff from a cigarette. The reason is simple enough; every time I decided that I was in control of my smoking and it was now safe to smoke a single cigarette after dinner, which I know that I would enjoy, I discovered that a month later I was up to a pack a day. That sad sequence happened several times and it is sad because I know I would really enjoy a cigarette after dinner. The last one was back about 1983 and that’s a quarter of a century ago, but since I know that I am an addict I can, and will, go another twenty-five years without smoking.

This post is partially motivated by an article in the magazine New Philosopher where the question was asked of the interviewees, “What is your motto?” My first response was that I don’t have a motto, but then after reflecting on that for a minute, and it was a whole minute, I realized that I do have a motto that I do actually think about and use fairly often when in a possibly difficult situation: “Don’t be smart, avoid being stupid!” I see a lot of what is obviously stupid behavior that will occasionally get people physically injured.

When in a doubtful situation, avoid being stupid.