Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fall of the Qing Dynasty

I remember learning as a schoolboy about the powerful civilization of the Qing dynasty that crumbled under the weight of a pervasive opium addiction. For some reason, that piece of history always stayed with me as it seemed so improbable that an entire nation of adults could all travel such a treacherous path in complete unison, without changing course, until inevitably reaching their tragic and ruinous destination.

These thoughts come back to me when I take my children to school each morning and note that very near 100% of the parents accompanying their children to school are carrying with them large travel-mugs filled (presumably) with coffee. Each of the many teachers I see, already on duty supervising the students on campus, also carries a mug with them on the job. So does the crossing guard. And the traffic monitor. And the principal.

After lunch, when I too indulge in the caffeine habit, I am always struck by the high number of very young people (teens) also buying coffee while I am there. Vast containers of coffee. It is actually quite alarming to see the habit taking hold so forcefully at such a young age.

I suppose caffeine is not so destructive as opium but the historical parallel is interesting. Just a little something to ponder over your next cup of Jo.


  1. Jeff Ryer7/02/2009

    And how are all these teens paying for this overpriced mud ? I see junior high kids going in to Stupidbucks after school each day dropping $4-6 dollars. These are probably the same kids that are also addicted to texting and IM (which is all nonsense) Mommy and Daddy paying for these addictions now, we will all pay in the end !!
    Where's Boo Hoo when you need him ???

  2. As a kid who became addicted to caffeine at a young age, starting with the great creation of Red Bull and moving to the more adult beverage of coffee, I justify such mindless consumption and religious dependency on the few studies that suggest two cups of coffee a day are good for you. This encouraging bliss allows me to support my addiction, and that's good enough for me. It also explains why I am so short.