For the United States it is voting day at last.
As early as tomorrow freedom will ring across the land as all the political ads will finally stop running. Yes, for once in my life, I’ll be happy to hear about side effects (up to and including death), how much money I won’t have in my retirement and garments specially designed for Americans and made in China so they can inhale whole containers of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (where a pint is still 16 ounces) and finger the remote control – all at the same time!
This day brings a lot of craziness.
I’m not going to miss the ads. Let’s take a look at Measure WTF. Ostensibly this measure was brought to the ballot via the citizen initiative process. What does that mean? Most likely that paid canvassers collected the signatures. What’s that? I love the smell of democracy in the morning.
I’m back in office (or, as I like to call it The Love Den) after a weekend of travel. Maybe I’ll do a travel post. Or maybe, like always, I’ll plan on it and never get it done. Anyway, this is my first post in a few days that wasn’t written by breaking my fingers on a tiny electronic keyboard on an iPad. As such, I’m pretty happy. -Ed.
Are things getting better or worse? My personal theory is that things have always been shitty and it’s a remarkably consistent thing. Were people more “evil” in medieval times or in present day? My guess is that both were about the same. The only difference is that we think things should be better today and when they’re not our brains incorrectly interpret the difference between reality and perception expectations as some kind of disconnect.
Our helpless brains then think things like, “Things are going to hell.” Only they’re not. The more things change the more they remain the same.
I remember when I was a kid. A service dog was something limited to blind and deaf people. These were highly trained animals that were rarely seen in public. And when they were nobody questioned their legitimacy. Why would we? What kind of freaking asshole would you have to be to take advantage of laws for disabled just because you want your pet to tag along when you go shopping or out to eat?
We also used words like “please” and “thank you” and held open doors for other people.
In today’s world an amazing number of us have no such ethical quandaries. We want something ergo the ends justifies the means. Period. The only criteria that must be met is that we want it. And, let’s be honest, that’s a pretty darn low standard to meet.
Park in a disabled parking space? I’ve never done it once in my life. A few months back I fell out of a boat and smashed my ankle on a rock while whitewater rafting. The damn thing still hurts like hell. I could have asked my doctor (if I had one) to fill out the paperwork for a temporary permit. Why the hell would I? I can limp the extra 20-50 feet just fine. What kind of an amazing prick must you be to think you are entitled to take a parking space from someone who really needs it.
I recently spoke with a person who freely admitted to doing it. And why wouldn’t they? In their mind there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. No recognition of ethical boundaries translated into no reticence about freely admitting what they had done. Their brain literally couldn’t comprehend their might be something wrong with such behavior. It would conflict with The Want.
This same person, though, had a major issue about people touching her dog. The dog is high strung and has a lot of anxiety. It doesn’t like to be touched except on its own terms. But when she took the dog out in public, like grower’s markets, strangers would pet the dog without asking and without permission. This was greatly upsetting to her.
Later, she took us to a public park where there were signs posted that said, “No dogs allowed.” It never crossed her mind that her dog shouldn’t be there. Run loose, doggie. Be free!
Her mind was literally incapable of discerning the reality of her beliefs and actions. Under one set of mores people were rude assholes for breaking rules and in the other she saw nothing wrong with her behavior. Both were able to sit comfortably in her brain at the same time and she never noticed anything wrong about it.
When I lived in San Diego I had a daughter who was deathly afraid of dogs. They would make her scream, shiver and become emotionally withdrawn. The fear may not have been realistic or logical but it existed nevertheless. As such, we didn’t take her to public spaces like dog parks. We’d search out public parks where dogs were prohibited. There was one of these near the ocean where we liked to go to fly kites.
There were other dog-friendly places. They even had their own beach. But invariably someone would show up and unload their dogs and let them run free. The dogs would rapidly approach us and the owners would say things like, “Don’t mind Fluffy. He would never hurt anyone.” Well I guess we have your word on that, don’t we? The word of a known criminal. Meanwhile the day was ruined, for us, with my young daughter back at the car and wetting her pants.
Well played. You get your dog area for backup and our space as your primary. You probably didn’t want to go there because there were too many dogs, right?
So are we bigger assholes to each other today or does it only seem that way? We certainly seem more narcissistic and masturbatory. But back then there less rule of law and other things in abundance like slavery, racism, gender oppression, genocide and more. Maybe as a society all we’ve done is redistribute the evil in new and interesting ways? Maybe the amount always must remain constant?
What would you spare for a stranger in the name of common decency? Polite consideration? Manners? Good form? Fuck, would you even do some small tidbit of niceness for someone you don’t know in the name boredom or trying something new?
Would you even bother to spare a mere five seconds of your time on this planet even if it didn’t line your pockets with gold?
Would you bother to move a finger a couple of inches for another human being? No, I’m not talking about The Finger! I’m talking about the supreme effort required to do something as simple as using your turn signal.
These questions occurred to me this evening as I drove down the street. I was even minding my own business and hadn’t done anything overtly provocative. 🙂
When the chips were down, I have no doubt that some people on the Titanic were selfish assholes. You know, the “every man for himself” type of thing. On the other hand, I’m sure some stepped up. You know, giving up their seats for women and children in exchange for certain death. That’s a fairly bold move. You might even call it an “ah ha moment.” I’ll be honest. I’m not so sure that just because someone is a “woman” or a “child” they automatically deserve a shot at life and I don’t. So I’m not exactly sure what I’d do in the same situation. (However, peeing myself is a given.) But I can certainly acknowledge the awesome level of sacrifice that some voluntarily made to make such a decision.
So I guess the real question I’m struggling with is, as a society, how much do we really give a shit about each other?
- I was driving down the road. I was the only car as far as the eye could see. At a cross street a car had just arrived and was about to cross. Based on my rate of travel and distance, there clearly wasn’t enough time for the driver to go. So naturally they went anyway. I had to hit the brakes to avoid plowing in to them as they deserved. (Trust me, it would have been my pleasure.) It would have taken an additional five seconds or so for me to clear the intersection. Moral of this story? “I can’t spare a mere five seconds for you in order to proceed safely and courteously and have the whole street to themselves.
- I was driving down the road. Suddenly the car in front of me slams on the brakes. There is no turn signal. They slow to almost a complete stop and then turn right. Moral of the story? “I can’t be bothered to play ahead and/or use my turn signal even failure to do so might kill us both.” Again, turning on their blinker about five seconds earlier might have helped.
Finally it dawned on me. This five-second thing is a trend. It must be significant. A hypothesis was slowly beginning to germinate in my mind:
When a society reaches the point that members can’t be bothered to spare five-seconds for each other then that society has reached “critical mass” and must leave the planet immediately.
We are the five-second society. The five-second rule is now in play.