A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Last week, the State Legislature of Maine passed a law that made it legal for one-armed people (amputees etc.) to possess and use switchblade knives. I suspect this is a good law, given the situation, but why under the sun and moon would anybody think about it in the first place? I’m not even going to go there because it just turns into mean-spirited comedy. You’ll have to fill in the blanks yourself — in your own head. However, remember that somebody had to believe the state of Maine needed a law for these special circumstances. They had to actively convince somebody in the Legislature this was a good deal, and that person, in turn had to convince everybody else. I don’t know the final vote count, for and against, but obviously the majority of lawmakers in the state of Maine thought the people would be best served by a law governing switchblade knives.
It’s important to note that it takes a lot of time and effort to get a bill passed into law. It’s not something you do one day after lunch. The paperwork alone would make an environmentalist weep. It’s a serious business.
This is where the whole law-making apparatus falls apart. Those who govern us do not take their occupations seriously. If they did, it would have been generally agreed, long since, that amputees in Maine — who needed to — could carry switchblades, and everybody would just shut up about it. Honestly, how many times does it come up, anyway? This isolated incident demonstrates that there’s a general theatre of the absurd attached to every government in North America. The politicians we elect do the most ridiculous things — without a murmur of apology. And then they try their damndest to make us believe it’s all so extremely important.
Just look at this current crop in Canada, trying to convince us that individually one of them is more vote-worthy than the other one. Please! Despite what the diehards say, Stephen Harper does not eat babies, Michael Ignatieff isn’t an American buffoon and Jack Layton doesn’t want to give all our money to homeless drug dealers. They’re just not that evil! Our politicos aren’t roaring radicals, bent on changing the world, and throughout our history, they never have been. They’re uniformly bland. In fact, Canada has actually suffered because our political leaders have always been cut from the same cloth. As a nation, we don’t go in for revolutionary big ideas. In the last 150 some odd years, Trudeaumania was the best we could do, and look where that got us. Canadians like the status quo. We’re like a Mom and Pop grocery store; nobody goes there for caviar or clutted cream but when you’re in a hurry, and you need a loaf of bread or a litre of milk… well, that’s a different story.
Think of it this way. Our wannabe leaders are all from the same family. They’re the children of the Mom and Pop store – kinda like a really, really cold Brady Bunch. They have every one of the traits and idiosyncrasies that drives us crazy in our own families but we keep in touch — simply because they are family. If you look at them this way, this unnecessary election makes a whole lot more sense. Stephen is the oldest brother. He thinks he’s been slaving away for years, without any recognition. He’s arrogant and bossy and thinks he knows it all. He’s been trying to run the show his way for so long he doesn’t think anybody else in the family knows what they’re doing. Michael is the middle brother who got this cool job out of town. He hasn’t been around for all the family problems over the years. He didn’t have to drive Dad to the chiropractor, for example, or go to the funerals, or deal with all the other various problems. Now, he’s come back home with some high-brow ideas, and he thinks he should have a say in the family business. Jack is the youngest brother, and nobody takes him seriously. He’s always been a little bit off the wall. He gets to do the jerk jobs that don’t matter — like cutting the grass — but when it comes time to make the big decisions, nobody listens to him. Elizabeth May is everybody’s little sister. They pat her on the head and say things like “Good idea!” but she’s generally ignored. At family gatherings, if there’s room, she gets to sit at the adult’s table, but if there isn’t, she has to go sit with the kids. And Gilles is that somewhere-in-middle brother who wants to change everything around and open up a cafe inside the grocery store. He doesn’t want to pay any rent — because he’s part of the family — but he wants to keep the profits of his little enterprise all to himself. The rest of the family wants to keep him happy, but they think his idea is stupid.
Here on Day whatever the hell it is, that’s what this election is all about — one little family arguing with each other — after lunch on Boxing Day or Easter (or whenever.) Nobody’s really serious, nobody’s going to get hurt and the family business will keep chugging along.
You can decide for yourself: how much of this is silly and how much of it is true?