The Smoke Pit

May 17, 2017

         The smoke pit, the vile eyesore of a health-conscious Washingtonian. Opinion of smokers, who suck down cancer sticks like they’ll live forever, ranks low nationwide. Smokers are considered social pariahs, cast aside because the habit they share is widely considered disgusting and extremely unhealthy. While the health issues are medically proven, the health consequences pale in comparison to the smell of freshly burned carcinogens on a smoker’s clothing.

         Many people are afraid to visit this center of intellectual stimulation. This gathering place, in my experience, is a trip back in time to what I imagined a college experience is supposed to be. Not the parties, the athletic events, club rushes or other activities with like-minded students. I picture the time when college was there to open your mind to beliefs, ideals, and points of view that conflict with the bubble college students were raised in.

         In this place, the Socratic Method is alive and well. There is no Powerpoint, Wamap, or Canvas. There isn’t a group of kids with headphones in; drowning out the world while blindly scrolling through algorithmically programmed social media. This is a place of free idea, opinion and speech where almost no topic is off limits. In this archaic institute of free thinking, spurred by a lecture, there was discussion about the allegory of Plato’s cave and how it relates to the modern day.

         In the short ten minutes between classes discussions ranging from the geopolitical implications of North Korea’s continued aggression, the link between Afghanistan’s opium production and heroin addiction, and the effects of prolonged warfare fill the air between puffs of smoke.

         Talks of what could happen if a nuclear device or an electromagnetic pulse detonated in Seattle. Imagine the chaos if the world’s largest tech companies were abruptly left without power. Or worse yet, watching as your entire internet social life disappears in an instant.

         As these stimulating conversations fill the air; smokers watch as other classmates idly stroll by on their way to class. Most of them glued to a screen where programmers and psychologists are purposely coding the content of your life: reference Plato’s Cave allegory and the shadows on the wall.

         If one were to put away the shackles that bind you and see the smoke pit for what it really is,  one would have a wonderful tale of intellectual stimulation unlike anything ever experienced before. Sadly, your friends will refuse to believe the story you tell. Instead, they’ll be too busy staring at their phones believing only what is being shown to them.

         In my opinion, Pierce College shouldn’t ban smoking completely. In this group there is no divide based on the classification systems human’s created. The perceived divide depicted by the media amongst race, religion, ethnicity, gender preference, or other human classification systems is virtually nonexistent.

          Smokers are already part of an endangered minority in this country. They realize the health consequences of their actions. But they will not forget the people they met, the conversations that were held, and the laughs that were shared. Because they spent time actually being social, not pretending to be.

         Remember in eight minutes a sudden burst of energy from the sun, traveling at the speed of light, could destroy the magnetic field and obliterate all life on earth without any warning (because nothing travels faster than the speed of light). You should lighten up a bit; smokers do. Let them enjoy their assigned safe space, because being social is a rare commodity these days.

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