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A reader writes … By Ben Malan

July 02, 2001

Once upon a time there was a woman who had a lovely garden in her back yard. She had no real income, so this garden was her only supply of food. She spent hours every day planting and watering in her garden and all her neighbors were impressed at her ability to grow the most beautiful fruits and vegetables.

One day when she went out to her garden, she saw an unusual plant right in the middle. It was a purple flower that stood straight up, only about half a foot tall. The woman was puzzled because she had never grown a flower that resembled this one. She came to the conclusion it was a weed and began to pull it out, but she stopped. This flower was not ugly and it was a nice centerpiece for the garden, so the woman left the weed in.

As time went on, the weed grew and grew, and as weeds do, it began taking over the garden, one square foot at a time. By this time, the roots were growing deeper, but the frail woman could have pulled it out if she wanted to, but it was so pretty that she let it stay. Eventually the plant not only required space but extra water, fertilizer and time on the part of the woman. When the woman gave these necessities, her neighbors warned her against wasting time and resources on the wrong thing, but she went ahead and did it.

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As the weed grew taller, it became a bush, and eventually a tree, much too firm for her to remove by herself. It blocked much of the sun that the garden needed, and all the neighbors offered to help destroy and remove it. But the woman, cutting back in her meals, decided the weed was so important she would let it live.

The woman soon died from starvation. On her deathbed her last words were, "Why did I let a small weed reduce me to this? I could have stopped it when it was small, but I let it grow and control me."

Isn't it a little ridiculous that the woman, beginning with a beautiful garden, chose to nourish the weed and ignore the other, more important things? What's worse is the fact a baby weed that looked so good turned out to be very deadly, and although she had control over it she didn't exercise that control.

Why is it that so many people today destroy their "gardens" of life by smoking? It may look good to some, but there is no practical value in it. And smoking is a habit, just like any other habit; the longer you do it, the harder it is to stop.

I hope you haven't let the "weed" of smoking destroy you. Even if you refuse to stop completely, please realize there is no reason to increase your daily cigarette intake.

The woman in the story was an example to her neighbors of what not to do. If you smoke, and eventually die from it, you will be an example to others of what not to do. If you smoke, try to see cigarettes for what they really are, and stop smoking by choice, or you may be forced to stop by your death.

BEN MALAN of Brawley recently graduated from Brawley Union High School. After attending Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, he will head to Tennessee to train to become a Christian missionary pilot. He recently had a second grandparent die of smoking-related problems.

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