Stuff I’m Cheering For …

For the last ten years or so, I’ve been surrendering slowly.  Like a dwarf peeing on a forest fire, I’ve been raging against the forces of evil who want to turn everybody on this planet into a grim-faced, Politically Correct automaton — just as miserable as they are.  These are the folks who destroyed satire, abolished irony, replaced love with the “relationship” and sucked the fun out of every holiday from Valentine’s Day to Christmas.  And I’m not even going to go into what they did to sex and junk food!  Anyway, with Covid-19 and American politics fueling the fire, for a while there, I thought all was lost.  Man, do I need to replace my rose-coloured glasses!  There are tons of cool things happening all over the world, and every one of them is a bucket of hope to pour on the flames.  So here are just a few things I’m cheering for these days. 

Hallowe’en parents – It’s a tough year to have little trick-or-treaters, so I’m cheering for anybody who’s trying to keep the holiday alive – especially the one who aren’t boycotting Mulan.

Women who wear skinny jeans – I have no idea how they get into them, and I’m sure they can’t be comfortable, but anybody who strikes a blow against yoga pants gets a cheer from me.

Movie makers – Actually, I’m giving 3 cheers to the people who’ve decided only villains wear those hideous Man Buns.  Good going, folks!

My niece and her husband – They’ve been together forever and have never once mentioned the word “relationship.”  (I think they’re in love.)  And now they’re having a baby.  The audacity of optimism!  Total congrats!

Je suis Samuel It goes without saying that I’m cheering for anybody who stands up to those idiot terrorist bastards

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – Since she was elected leader in a very weak minority government, she’s handled a terrorist attack, a couple of natural disasters and kicked the crap out of Covid-19 – and, oh yeah — in her spare time, she had a baby.  Living proof that not all politicians are dolts.  BTW, last week, she was re-elected with the largest majority in 50 years!

That Guy in Canada – A Canadian onion seller tried to put an advertisement on Facebook, but it was rejected because it was “overtly sexual.”  (The ad was just a picture of onions.)  Laughing all the way to the bank, Jackson McLean posted the same picture and Facebook’s rejection on his own website.  The onions sold out in 3 days!  Take that, you mindless techno-tyrant!

And finally:

The Danes – Every one of them.  The Danes have a word, samfundssind that basically means “community spirit,” but it’s more about people taking responsibility for the community — kinda like “Hey, we’re all in this together, so don’t be a dick!”  This flies in the face of the WHAT-ABOUT-ME culture most of the rest of us have.  But it also means Denmark is a cool place to live.  People there are nice to each other; they wait their turn; they don’t throw trash in the streets; they say please and thank you and clean up after their dogs.  But mostly, they trust each other to be just as reasonable.  FYI, Danish parents routinely leave their baby buggies on the sidewalk when the go into shops and cafes.  That’s some serious trust!  We should all take a page out of that book.

Whatever Happened to Polite?

hater3For the last couple of days I’ve been rattling on about how people aren’t polite anymore.  I’m sure it’s just old man nostalgia for a more genteel time, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how we got from “please and thank you” to “Yo, bitch!  Ain’t no thing.”  I know language changes, usually for the better, but I also know that it’s the canary in the mineshaft, signaling changes in social behaviour and attitudes.  Our language and the way we use it is a reflection of what kind of people we are.  The fact that we’re rude says a lot about us; I just don’t know what.

Let me give you an example.  There’s this old man.  He spent his entire life devoted to his profession.  He showed up for work, worked hard and never complained.  What he did might not have moved mountains, but he did the best he could with what he had.  Nor is he exactly what you’d call a saint.  Actually, he doesn’t really have the same values as the vast majority of people in this world.  However, he did try his best to live a good life, as he knew it, and to help the people around him do the same.  Now he’s old and sick and too frail to work anymore.  All he wants to do is retire and spend the last few years he has on earth in quiet contemplation — perhaps with his God.

It seems to me that we should have some kind words for this old fellow.  We should treat him with a little respect.  Whether we like him or not, or even know him, common courtesy tells us that we shouldn’t make fun of him.  Why would we?  I’m not saying we should be extravagant in our praise, but there’s no need to dis the guy.  His retirement doesn’t warrant a bunch of snide remarks or clever wordplay wisecracks or cartoon sight gags.  In fact, I can’t think of a single reason to verbally beat up on this, or any other, old man.  Yet, our society has spent the better part of a week being as disrespectful as possible (Have you figured it out?) to Pope Benedict XVI — for no other reason than we can get away with it.

I’m not a Catholic (actually, I’m not much of anything) so it really doesn’t matter to me, but I would hope that the spiritual headhater1 of any religion (whether it’s yours or not) deserves a little reverence.  Nothing I can think of, including atheism, is really a good excuse for bad manners.  Nor can I conjure up a single journalistic purpose that was served by the headline: “German Shepherd Abandons Flock.”  At least it was better than “Ex-Benedict” which was merely an idiot pun that still doesn’t actually mean anything.  Then, of course, there were the editorial cartoons with the Pope subletting the Vatican, Craigslisting the Sistine Chapel and searching — not to mention the series of faux tweets, Pinterest posts and late night comedians.  After that it just gets tawdry.

Believe what you will about Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church, I’m only using this as an illustration of just how rude a people we’ve become.  We call each other names, in the name of politics, insult each other in the name of comedy and laugh at injury and misfortune just because we’re bored.  However, the worst part of it is we are discourteous off-handedly, as if we we’re shooing flies with our tails.  Rudeness has become our automatic response to the world around us.  We reserve no respect for anything and wonder when we are not respected in return.  Unfortunately, as we get further and further away from “please and thank you,” it’s going to get more and more difficult even to respect ourselves.