The fit and vivacious middle-aged woman is joyfully frolicking across the sand, the gentle waves lapping away at her bare feet. The camera pans back slightly and we see a frisky Labrador Retriever running playful circles around her. The deep-toned voice of the announcer reminds us that this woman is able to live a full and productive life thanks to the latest advances in pharmaceutical science.
Fade to black and come back into focus to find a group of older men peddling their competition racing bicycles up a steep mountainside, The sun is shining brightly as they reach the crest of the peak and pull over to sip their energy drinks and slap each other on the back. The very same voice echos through the television speakers to inform us that these gentlemen are fully functional in the bedroom; thanks once again the major prescription drug companies!
About this time, I am picturing these geriatric testosterone-laden men riding their bicycles across the beach in pursuit of middle-aged women who no longer have to worry about their cholesterol. Trust me folks, my daydream goes downhill from there! I am getting ready to hit the Internet in pursuit of a pair of bicycle racing shorts and a sponsored jersey when that unique announcer’s voice snaps me out of my daydream!
Some side effects have been reported by patients using “XXXXXXXX.” (Notice how I cleverly managed to avoid a defamation suit by masking the brand name of the drug?) Elevated blood pressure, blurred vision, headaches, cramps, vomiting, unusual bruising, constipation, diarrhea, unexplained urges to eat dog food, fur balls, and unsightly back hair have been reported by users of this product. You brace yourself for the inevitable final disclaimer! “In rare instances, death has been reported in patients using this product.”
The first natural thought is to ask yourself if the benefits of the pharmaceutical outweigh the plethora of potential side-effects. Personally, I think I can live with the aches of rheumatoid joint pain, given the alternative of meeting my maker prematurely! The second thought is to wonder why the announcer’s monotone voice does not change pitch or emotion as he moves from listing irritating side effects to suggesting that he has a free one way ticket for you to meet the Grim Reaper!
If you buy into the pharmaceutical conglomerate mentality; there is no side-effect that should ever stand in the way of the miraculous effects of their latest overpriced drug. The odds are in your favor that you will not be part of the ill results minority. But even if you bet both black and red on the roulette wheel at Caesar’s Palace; there is a one in thirty-seven chance that the silver ball will come to rest on the green “0.”
What if life came with a full disclosure of all the potential side-effects associated with the decision you were about to make? Imagine if every person you met had to list all of the ill effects that could befall you as a result of your association with them. Would you be able to make an informed decision as to how greatly the benefits outweighed the risks? Yes, the predictable warning about rare instances of death would always be the last statement made! By the way, the annoying bass announcer voice would always be there to rattle off the entire list of possible side-effects.
I am relatively confident that I would be most dangerous human being on this planet if my every choice were pre-qualified by the possible ramifications of my actions. I would spend my every waking moment analyzing how to best maximize my benefits and minimize my risks. I would never make a wrong decision. I would never be hurt or disappointed. I would always be doing what was best for me. I would never be alone; instead, having the announcer as my constant companion! Then again, I might be overwhelmed by it all and simply spend the rest of my life hiding under the bed covers.
Full disclosure of all consequences in life seems appealing on the surface. But the essence of humanity is that we make mistakes, and they give us an opportunity to learn and grow. Disappointment is as much a part of you as hope is. Pain is every part as formative as healing. The beauty of our time on this Earth is that our weaknesses can be transformed into our strengths.
Along the way, we are given the greatest potential risk any of us could ever hope to face! Each of us has the chance to share of ourselves with everyone we meet. Sure, there is the potential for rejection and we are possibly setting ourselves up for hurt. Then again, the benefit is that we might just better ourselves as we better those we meet.
The good news is, “death has not been reported in any users of this product!” By the way, I would be pleased to be honored to be your personal announcer.