Who has the right? [Archives:2007/1039/Community]

April 5 2007

Ghaleb Hassan Al-Ahlasi
[email protected]

The bus was ready to go and filled with passengers. He searched in his pocket until finding it, opened it, took one and then lit it.

“Excuse me,” the man sitting behind him said, “I have a sick child here and your smoke is bothering him.”

He turned to look at the child and just as he was preparing to throw it out, a voice from the back said, “Can't you read this?”

He turned to see a 45-year-old man motioning to a small sticker reading, “NO SMOKING.”

“Well, it's just a sticker,” the smoker replied.

“Yes, but now there's a law prohibiting smoking on all transportation means,” another young man interposed.

“Yes, I know. I've heard this millions of times.”

“Then why you don't stop?”

“You see, I have the right to do whatever I want.”

“Yes, but you don't have the right to bother others or harm them,” one of them said.

“You have the right to smoke and we have the right to clean air.”

“Don't you know the famous proverb: Your rights end where others' begin?”

“Tell that to yourself!” the smoker retorted.

“What?!” the man replied, “You're just one and we are 20!”

“If you want to smoke, get out of the bus!” an old man said angrily.

“Who are you to kick me off the bus?”

“Who are you to kill us with your smoke?” the old man retorted.

“Kill you?” the smoker laughed, “Can't you see yourself? You're already dead!”

“You're impolite,” a man in the back said.

“Look who's talking!” the smoker replied angrily.

“Hey, hey! If you want to fight, get out of my bus!” the driver interrupted.

Three minutes passed without a word. The smoker felt heat on his hands and upon checking, he discovered that it was his finished cigarette, so he threw it out.

“I don't know what you like about it,” the man behind him remarked.

“It gives me the true meaning of life.”

“Oh, really?!” one man laughed.

“He means the true meaning of death.”

“Do you know how many diseases it gives you?”

“Well, it's my body and I have every right over it.”

“What about your family? Haven't you thought about your children?” one man asked.

“You know, smoking affects nonsmokers more than smokers, especially children,” another man added.

“Nothing will happen to me and my family unless it's our fate,” the smoker replied confidently.

“Well, even if your life and your children's lives are so cheap, ours are very expensive.”

“Hey man,” the smoker laughed, “it's just a cigarette, not a machine gun!”

“But its effect is more than a gun,” another man replied.

“If you want to smoke, just get off the bus,” the old man said again.

“I got on first, so you're the one who must get off,” he answered politely.

“Yes, but we are 20 more than you!” the man in the back shouted.

“Well,” the smoker said, “it's my stop and I must go now; otherwise, I'd like to finish this great conversation.”

The bus stopped and he got off, saying goodbye to the others and giving the old man a cigarette, saying, “Taste this if you want to live more.”

He then went and the bus continued its journey, but the question remained in everyone's mind: Who has the right? Smokers to smoke or nonsmokers to have clean air?