Tag Archives: forgiveness

Hyppo and Critter: Atheists out of America!

Hyppo and Critter

Human behavior needs an airlock

Houston, I am now ejecting myself out of the airlock without a spacesuit. My beggings will commence in 5... 4... 3...

In space no one can hear you be a dumbass…

“To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
–Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion (loosely paraphrased)

Of course Newton’s Third Law says pretty much diddly squat about human beings!

Let’s say you are in space and you wish to be a dumbass. What is something dumb you might do? Well, you could load yourself into the airlock, forget to bring your spacesuit, then punch the “open the pod bay door” button.

If you ever get the chance, give it a try. I highly recommend it. Don’t forget to document your results! Should be interesting.

The point here, one that is alien to most of us in America these days, is that actions have consequences. Well, they should. But once you involve those frisky humans consequences can become a quite murky thing.

The thing about the airlock example above is: It is absolute. The situation doesn’t allow for compromise, remorse, begging, forgiveness or anything else. There is no higher reality or force with which to lodge your request for something like a second chance. If you punch that button without a suit you will be sucked off into outer space and die. (Some of you might point out that “sucked out” might be a better choice of phrase. I can only say, “To each their own!”)

There’s a wonderful short story that illustrates the concept of choice and consequences when it is absolutely absolute. It’s called The Cold Equations and it was written by Tom Godwin back in 1954. I first encountered it in a book called The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, which is an incredible anthology of science fiction short stories.

Here’s the summary of The Cold Equations from Wikipedia:

A starship makes the rounds of Earth’s colonies, adhering to a schedule from which it cannot deviate. When reports of a fever outbreak on the frontier planet Woden reach the starship, it drops off an Emergency Dispatch Ship, a space vessel of limited range, with a pilot and the serum that will cure them. The pilot discovers a stowaway, an 18-year-old girl named Marilyn who wants to see her brother, a colonist on Woden. The girl believes that she will have to pay a fine, but the situation is far more serious. The ship only has enough fuel for the pilot and his cargo. Her additional mass will cause the ship to run out of fuel before it can land, dooming both the pilot and the sick colonists. The pilot tries frantically to come up with a solution, but there is no way around the “cold equations”; he does not have sufficient fuel. The best he can do is to alter the ship’s course enough to give her a single hour’s reprieve before she must be jettisoned. In that time, she writes letters to her parents and her brother, talks with the pilot about death and, in the last few minutes, is able to speak with her brother on the radio, allowing them to say their goodbyes. When the horizon of the planet breaks up the radio contact, the girl enters the airlock and is ejected into space.

Now that is the kind of consequence I’m talkin’ about!

That sort of thing, however, is totally and utterly alien in the world of human behavior. In the vast majority of cases boorish human behavior goes completely unpunished and unchecked. There are, in these cases, absolutely no “consequences.”

In some cases, a person may actually be held partially accountable for their actions. (I consider this outcome exceedingly rare.) You’ve heard the expression, “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.” That is this concept in a nutshell. Whine, beg, show remorse, make deals, pray, etc. Do whatever it takes to slither off the hook either complete or partially.

I find myself thinking a lot about this concept after a friggin’ asshole who wouldn’t obey the rules on an aircraft became the straw on some camel’s back. The “camel” will be dealt with by our system, but what about the “straw?”

When has an airline passenger ever faced “consequences” for the behavior we saw in this incident? I’ll bet it’s more rare than me winning the lotto. (Or almost as rare as me buying a lotto ticket.) Does anyone who disobeys the “remain sitting” rule ever get punished? Banned from the airline? Do they even get a stern look from airline management?

Take a look at the world around you. How often can you see the airlock on human behavior being overridden by indifference, injustice or deliberate unfairness? And what are the consequences of never having actual consequences? Is a society totally devoid of civility the ultimate result?

The fifty percent cat kicker

Go ahead. Kick me, you cockroach. Then you can say hello to my little friend!

Today I’d like to introduce Clevon. (Not his real name.)

Clevon is an interesting person. Sometimes he’s nice. Sometimes he’s a shit heel. Some people I know speculate that he’s not “all there” mentally. I’m not so sure. Even if true that doesn’t excuse downright meanness. He’s a fairly well known guy in our community, owns his own small business, is God-fearing and active in the local Masonic lodge.

He certainly acts like no God-fearing Mason I’ve ever met. I have a great amount of respect for the Masons. Before I met Clevon, I’d never met one who was a douchebag. Aside from Clevon they’ve all been people I was very glad to know.

Sometimes people will ask me my opinion of Clevon. I’ll respond and say that he’s probably one of the biggest pieces of shit I’ve ever known. (If I’m in the mood to be honest. It depends on who is asking.) He’s one of the few people I can seriously say I “hate” on planet Earth. I don’t hate easily but he’s earned it.

Sometimes people will act surprised to hear me say this. “But Clevon does lots of nice things. He does XYZ for the community. He helps old ladies across the street. He supports our troops. He even baked me cookies.”

Yeah? So the fuck what? He’s also a gun-totin’ freak who terrorized his girlfriend to the point that she was afraid for her life and had to get a restraining order. Finally he appeared to lose interest and disappeared. Now I hear he’s back in town. Bummer. He’s also the kind of person who yells about “freedom” all the time but backstabs people around town who have different beliefs and political positions than he does.

Clevon raises the legitimate question: “How do you classify someone who is nice part of the time?” To me the answer is simple. “Douchebag!”

I’ll use the example of a cute little cuddly kitty cat to make my point. Let’s say one day Clevon walks along and sees the kitty. He bends down and says “here kitty kitty” and gives the cat some love and the cat purrs. How nice.

The next day, however, he sees the kitty and gives it a swift kick for no particular reason at all.

And so it goes, back and forth, day after day, alternating love and kick. Love. Kick. Love. Kick.

How would you classify this behavior? Would you say that Clevon is “fifty percent nice?” Or, perhaps, “fifty percent a jerk?”

Not me! Anyone who acts like that is 100% asshole douchebag in my book. That is why Clevon gets no sympathy or pity from me for anything. And he gets zero appreciation from me when he does something nice. If you repeat your asshole behavior often enough then you are an asshole. Forgiveness and redemption can only come once the behavior has stopped and a real change for the better has been made.

Sorry, Clevon. I know what you are.

Note: My eager staff of interns has just informed me that the term “cat kicker” has a vulgar definition over on the Urban Dictionary. The selection of the example used in this post was purely coincidental.