A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
As you may have noticed, I spend a lot of time being grouchy in these pages. It’s gotten so bad that a while ago one of my relatives said, “Hey, what’s the deal? You’re not that crabby in real life.” Actually, this is true — I’m not. As Bill Hickok once said to Poker Jenny, “I am a man of comedy.” (It should be noted that neither one of them saw the irony of the Navy Colt pistols stuck in Hickok’s sash.) Unlike Hickok, though, I don’t have a quick temper. Hickok did (which accounts for the pistols.) However, like Wild Bill I enjoy my time. I think the 21st century is tres cool, especially here in North America. We live in a wonderful world I might carp and bitch about it but that’s only ‘cause I’m worried we’re not going to “know what we got ‘til it’s gone.”
For example, right at this very moment (it’s after midnight) I can wheel on down to the local McDonald’s grab a couple of Happy Meals™ (Hey! Don’t forget my free toy!) come home and watch Dude! Where’s My Car? in HD. Why? Just because I want to. This may sound frivolous because it is. However (and this is the important bit) this is the very same society which will, if I choke on the extra pickles, send a couple of paramedics over to my house at top speed to save my life; with, I might add, enough time left over to watch Ashton Kutcher ride off into the sunset with… Demi Moore? Not bad, considering there are some parts of this world where pickled anything is a luxury, Happy Meals™ are the stuff of legend, and the only time the paramedics show up is when the boys over at the UN finally get off their asses. Life is good in our neighbourhood.
I don’t have enough time to list all the good stuff our society has on offer. Nobody does; there’s far too much. Suffice it to say that the operative word is benevolent. Despite what out of power politicians and professional malcontent activists tell you, our society is not the enemy. In fact, it’s probably our best friend. It allows us the freedom of choice to metaphorically indulge ourselves in Happy Meals™ any time of the day or night, and then, when they try to kill us at two o’clock in the morning, it comes running to the rescue. We can be as fat, dumb and lazy as our minds and bodies will allow, squander our resources on techno-junk and even endlessly dis our social institutions – to their faces. Our society doesn’t care. It doesn’t get all pissed off and send in the jackboots like they do in other parts of the world. It just keeps chugging away, fixing the street lights, repairing the sewers, trying to educate our young people and protecting us from ourselves and others who would do us harm.
I realize it’s a long way from this place to Utopia and our social, economic and political problems are multiplying faster than Norwegian rats in a New York sewer. However, let’s be honest: what other time and place on this planet has what we’ve got? For my money, our biggest problem is we’ve settled on the inconceivable (but very convenient) notion that society itself is the bogeyman. We take all that we’ve built for ourselves for granted — as if it happened by accident. We fail to understand that the institutions we ignore or malign, depending on our mood, are the very things which give us the time and leisure to do so. But there I go being all grumpy again. I suppose, like Hickok, Friend Cody, Texas Jack and the rest, I simply can’t abide a bunch of all-hat cowboys badmouthing my BFF.