Thursday, June 26, 2008

Forgive me, but is that your breath?

June 26, 2008 - Teeth have a way of telling you just about everything you need to know about a person. Do they smoke? Drink coffee? Drink wine? Do they get enough calcium? Do they have good genes or at the very least good habits? Are they descendants of Trigger? Can they eat an apple through a picket fence? Do they have a good dentist? If eyes are the windows to the soul, teeth are the beacons of lifestyle.

Today is Toothbrush Day. Get out your toothbrush and shine up those pearly whites (or in the case of us caffeine addicts, those pearly beiges). The toothbrush has a long history. It is thought that the modern toothbrush was invented by the Chinese using the stiff hairs of a hog's neck attached to a bamboo stick. ¹ It wasn't until 1770 that William Addis of England created the first mass-produced toothbrush after spending some time in prison. I guess the breath of his new roommate was a little questionable. At the time, prisoners washed their teeth by rubbing them with a rag with salt. When Billy Boy got out of prison, he became a wealthy man. Turns out it wasn't just prisoners who had criminal breath. Before Bill's newly designed and marketed toothbrush, there may not have been as much emphasis on tooth care. Thus, it was likely easier to forgive the guy on the streetcar beside you for his breath. Yours might not have been much better.

Forgiveness is an interesting concept. We take time to stew and be angry about some perceived wrong, and yet, when it comes time to let it go, we often don't. We use the words "I'm sorry" with so little effort that when you mean them, they just don't seem to say enough. So when it comes to real forgiveness, what words can express it? Do we say it with flowers? (Today is National Rose Day) Can we say it with gifts? Or is the best way to say it to actually feel forgiveness. To move on with compassion? Forgiveness is a big topic. It is large enough to have several days dedicated to the notion. June 26th is Forgiveness Day. But that's not all. The first Sunday of August is International Forgiveness Day, and on August 27th is Global Forgiveness Day. Yom Kippur is all about atonement and forgiving, and the first Sunday before Lent is called Forgiveness Sunday. Wait, there's more. September 8th is Pardon Day - where instead of "I'm sorry", we can use phrases like "Pardon me" or "Excuse me" or "I beg your pardon" or to seek pardon.

Either we are a society of people with no concern for anyone else but ourselves, we are seriously in need of new ways to say "I'm sorry", or there is a lot of bad breath in this world. For that, I'm sorry.

1. History of the toothbrush

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