A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
The world is large and it’s full of wonder, but it’s also an obstacle course of nasty. This is the stuff that we know is unfair, stuff we know is a scam, stuff that insults our intelligence and our integrity. In general, we just have to put up with this crap– or spend our entire lives cultivating an apoplectic ulcer. However, there is one way to survive without being totally pissed off all the time: that’s to stop, take three deep breaths and refuse to participate. Here are just a few things I refuse to do. (Some of them are more serious than others.)
I refuse to use Gillette products – A while ago, the multinational boys at Gillette made a video that called me (and every other man) a bad friend, a bad father/brother/uncle, a bad role model, a bad mentor, generally a bad person, certainly a sexist and quite possibly a … anyway … you get the idea. Their only purpose, as far as I can see, was to cash in on trending “toxic masculinity.” So be it. Well, I’ve been called a lot of names over the years, but I’ve never paid anybody for the privilege – and I’m certainly not going to start now.
I refuse to wear short pants – I know it’s uber-fashionable, but in ten years, we’re all going to laugh ourselves stupid at the photographs. Here’s the deal. Unless you’re a swimmer, a diver, a runner, a pole vaulter or an ice hockey player (think about it!) there is no logical reason for a grown man in the northern hemisphere to wear shorts to work. Just sayin’!
I refuse to Tweet – My only mission in life is to communicate, and Twitter is the poster child of communication in the 21st century. So what’s the problem? Quite simply, Twitter is the meanest, nastiest, most judgemental, disrespectful, petty form of communication since Grog the Caveman grunted obscenities at the Neanderthals down the road. History is going to look at our time and conclude most of our problems came from the horrible way we talked to each other – and I’m not willing to be part of that.
I refuse to eat liver – I have no philosophical quarrel with liver, but I ain’t going to eat it. (This is my mother’s fault.)
I refuse to give money to charity — Sounds hard-hearted and it is, but in my defence, I’ve donated tons of clothing, furniture and food over the years. I’ve recorded radio programs for the blind, cooked pancake breakfasts, swept floors, washed dishes, picked up garbage, sold raffle tickets and taught public speaking in a federal prison – all gratis. When I get to the Gates of Valhalla, I’m not going to have anything to be ashamed of in the good works department. My problem with giving cold hard cash to charity is there’s always a middleman somewhere, and no one is ever willing to tell me how much he’s taking off the top.
I refuse to be lectured by teenagers – I’ve always worked on the premise that the ideas of young people are fresh. They look at the world with an untrained eye, which gives them a lot of latitude — and that’s a good thing. However, I’m not interested in being berated for my many failures by someone whose biggest accomplishment so far is mastering puberty. The notion that kids bring just as much to the table as the experts who’ve studied the problem for years is ludicrous. Here’s how it works: if your kitchen is flooded, who are you going to call to fix the water pipes – some child fresh out of middle school or a professional plumber? The choice is yours, but I’m going with the plumber.