Monday, November 6, 2017

Bless who?

There was dust in the air. I broke into a fit of sneezing—the kind of sneezing you do (or at least I do) when you’re outside, with no one nearby, so there’s no need to cover your mouth. You can just let it rip. Loud, full-body sneezes that really clear the sinuses and even leave you a little high. Totally gratifying sneezes.

When I finished, the guy camped about a hundred yards away, whom I’d never met, called out, “Bless you.”

Whenever someone responds to a sneeze with Bless you I wonder why no one does the same when people cough.

Okay, so Bless you has it’s origins way back in the days of widespread ignorance when they believed you were expelling demons, or perhaps even your soul, whenever you sneezed. Well, and some wet stuff they didn’t know contained germs. Today most of us accept we aren’t spewing literal devils, yet we still bless and get blessed.

Meanwhile, we know a hacking cough is a symptom of all sorts of nasty medical problems, some of which can kill you. So why no Bless you? Not even an enlightened, I-know-this-is-just-a-cultural-artifact-not-Beelzebub-fleeing-your-body Bless you that acknowledges you’ve got a problem and hopes it’s nothing serious.

Accidentally inhale a bit of pepper dust and you’ll get blessed from all sides. But hack up blood from a cancerous lung and they might ask if you’re alright, if you need help, get you some water, or a doctor—sensible things. That’s good. That’s better than a knee-jerk Bless you. But why were coughs ignored in the old superstitions? Who decided coughs didn't warrant blessings? Weird.

So, to all you coughers, hackers, wheezers and chokers out there, bless you, bless you, bless you. Bless. You. I hope you get better.

Pass it on. Start a new tradition.

1 comment:

  1. To say "God Bless You" started in 590 when the Plague was killing most of the people in Europe, ordered by the Pope Gregory as a prayer...