Category Archives: Rants

Anti-Duhmericanism

I have often been accused by my friends and family of being anti-American.  That I have a deep-seated hatred of our neighbours to the south.  And I will admit, there have been times that I have said or done things that may give that impression.  At the risk of alienating any readers that hail from the Red White and Blue, I have laughed at “ignorant American” jokes.  I’ve uttered “Bloody Americans” when something that the nation through sport, politics or culture, has offended my sensibilities.  I’ve rolled my eyes at the “USA! USA! Chants.  (not in that I find cheering for your nations team offensive or irritating, but that it’s paraded out from everything from the olympics, to dog shows.) I snort in disgust every time I hear an American politician talking about the US being the greatest nation in the world. (I don’t believe any nation deserves such a title.)

What I really attribute all of that to though, is the rivalry that two nations close in both proximity and culture will have for each other.  We endure the “do y’all live in igloos?” jokes, it’s only fair that they endure our semi-snide assertions that Americans don’t know what goes on outside of their own states.  We put up with being “Americas hat”, they can live down being called a bit arrogant, loud and obnoxious.

Because in all cases, it’s an untrue generalization.  Some Canadians actually do live in igloos.  And we are north of America, kind of hat like and all.  (We prefer toque.)  And much like that is generalized, you can find arrogant, obnoxious Americans who don’t know the first thing about anything outside of America.

This morning though, my “Bloody Americans” sense was tingling.  On reading the news that the Senate voted against gun control, I had but little choice to sigh in disgust.  It seems completely idiotic to me that in the light of all the bloodshed and misery that has befallen America in the form of firearms, that this is even a debate.  When children are dying from flying bullets, society MUST change.  It’s the only civilized direction that can be taken. I can’t tell you how good it feels to walk around in our cities, late at night, and not fear that someone wills shoot me because they think I’m a threat.

Now this is not a rant about gun control per se.  I have no interest in wading in to that argument, because the sides of the argument are so firmly entrenched in their paradigms that you’d sooner move Everest a few miles from where it stands, than change their minds. All of the statistics can be fudged, or made to seem like it supports either side with little effort, and little result.  Nor am I against ownership of Guns, Canadians own a great many firearms.

What raises my ire is that there is a certain segment of the population that does not value life outside of their own.  That feel that their rights trump any responsibilities they have to their fellow man, and that can mean either domestically, or internationally.  This is true of each nation, Canada bears the shame of having boorish, self-centred bigots that couldn’t care less if anyone else suffers or dies.  But it seems to me that it is a very large segment of the American population that feels this way. (estimated at about 49%, given the last election numbers.)

As I started with talking about gun control, I’ll continue on that vein first.  The opponents of gun control want you to believe that it strips them of their rights to regulate weapons available for the public.  That if it happens, they will be unable to defend themselves, their families, their possessions.  They even want you to believe that gun ownership PREVENTS deaths, instead of causes them.  (Which, if I may offer my less than humble opinion, is like saying more rain causes less puddles.)

But the real issue here, is that they are afraid.  Everyone is the bogey man, every one is a criminal looking to come and plunder, and kill and destroy.  Put aside the nonsense false bravado you hear from those advocates of concealed carry.  The average gun owner can NOT stop crime by drawing their weapons.  If anything, it only increases the chance of people being shot, to either horrific injury or death.  So many anecdotal stories get forwarded of  good-hearted gun wielding citizens coming to the rescue with their handgun, but the truth is it’s few and far between, and in almost most cases the one who starts shooting is the citizen, not the criminal.  I was disgusted by the mindless prattle of some of these gun enthusiasts who said that if they were there at Sandy Hook, or in the movie theater, that the only person to die would be the shooter, they would calmly draw, fire, and it would be over.  This is of course obtuse nonsense.  They live in fear of their countrymen, and believe that their life is more valuable than others.  that their possessions are worth the blood of a petty thief.

They point to the second amendment and prattle on about their rights, worshiping the founding fathers as if they are infallible Gods, that it wasn’t a product of their time and culture when it was written.  That it cannot be reviewed for modern times, by sensible people with sensible ideals.  They don’t mind using mindless bigotry and racism to make their points, and even believe their own nonsense.

And things do happen that can cause fear. The bombing of the Boston Marathon is tragic, and horrifying, and I sincerely hope they catch and crucify those who were responsible. The truth is though, gun ownership wouldn’t stop such an event. The record of citizens bearing arms stopping either mass shootings, or bombings, currently stands at zero.

It’s these same like-minded people who have no concern about the level of death and misery that wars have caused in the middle east.  When the Twin Towers were attacked, it marked one of the most heinous crimes against innocent civilians in modern times.  3000 dead, and for what?  Nothing more than Jingoistic hatred.  But for these people, the deaths of many times more Afghani and Iraqi innocents, is as meaningless to them as a foreign language.  I find myself wondering what ratio of value a civilian from the Middle East is, compared to the life of an American citizen.  Since in Iraq alone, it’s been estimated that upwards of 100 thousand innocents have died, you wonder if over 20-1 is an equitable trade-off.  Which doesn’t even include the Afghani men, women and children who had no part in either the terrorism, or the war.   How is a child laying dead in the streets of Kabul from an American bullet, compare to a child of the same age buried beneath the rubble of a collapsed skyscraper?

It’s these same like-minded people who sneer at universal health care, believing that nobody should get a handout, that the deadbeats should just take care of themselves. They preach about the horrors of socialism while so many leave disease untreated because they cannot afford it.

So it’s Anti-Duhmericanism that I can be accused of. The simple-minded bluster and prejudice of dangerously unenlightened people. It is to them that I direct my disdain, and dare I say it hope. Hope that they will join those in their communities, states, nations and neighbours, to find a better way. One where fear does not rule, paranoia is not prevalent, hatred is set aside.

And if you’ll allow me to skip the apology to those who read this and are deeply offended, I have no doubt that they wouldn’t be interested in what I have to say in the first place.


Caveat emptor!

You are a gullible idiot.  Well, to be more accurate, we all are.  Ok, let’s narrow that down even further.  Most of the world BELIEVES we are.

Perhaps you’re one of the few that isn’t gullible.  That can discern truth in every case.  Maybe you aren’t fooled when you see $49.99 printed on a red sticker for those jeans you want to buy. You immediately say in your head “that’s just retail garbage. It’s 50 bucks. They ain’t fooling me.  (As a side note, don’t say that out loud while shopping alone.   You WILL appear insane, particularly after you buy the jeans anyway.)

I only had to buy 70,000 things to save this much!

I only had to buy 70,000 things to save this much!

The steady stream of obfuscation, outright lies, and nonsense is thrown at us all day every day though, and we’re expected to believe it.  In our consumerism, in our entertainment, in our education… systemic bull-shitting,  And we’re not just talking about politicians here.  We as a democratic society have already figured out that they’re six degrees south of personal injury lawyers on the honesty scale.

The lies start innocently enough.  And they come from our most trusted sources… Mom and Dad!  You know all the well-intentioned falsehoods that start there.  You can be anything you want to be when you grow up.  Don’t sit too close to the TV, your eyes will turn square.  If you keep making that face, it will stick for life!  Be good or Santa won’t bring you any presents.

You didn't eat your broccoli on March 13th. You're screwed this year, kid.

You didn’t eat your broccoli on March 13th. You’re screwed this year, kid.

I think the collective psyche of middle class children with parents that can afford the gifts, turn out just fine when they discoverer Santa’s a jolly fat lie. It’s the rare individual that spends their days in the fetal position weeping about St. Nick being nothing more than a conspiracy.  I find myself wondering however, if that’s where we get the proclivity to swallow nonsense.  And because of our general sense that it’s ok to lie to us… they do.

Wait!  Who are “they?”  Who is it that’s lying to us and think they can get away with it! The nerve of them! Tell me who it is so I can send a strongly worded letter!  (Sorry, that’s Canadian mentality.  If you are from the United States, substitute “so I can shoot them.”)

Signed, a concerned consumer.

Signed, a concerned consumer.

The answer to that though, is pretty much everybody.  Anyone who wants a piece of your time, money, or resources.  People who want you to believe that you are getting what you expect, or are getting everything you think you should.

Moving forward from the dastardly dishonesty of our parental units, take a look at school.  They say they are teaching us life skills that we’ll need to make it big in adulthood, preparing us for all the ins and outs of being a productive member of society. And we do learn some valuable things in school.  But how much isn’t really that honest?  Beyond the basics of education, what is it that they teach us that is essential to life?  Sure, if you have a particular career path in sciences, or physical education, or any number of jobs that have a specific prerequisite of knowledge, those courses make sense.  You need to know about Nuclear reactions to be a nuclear safety inspector, regardless of what The Simpsons tell you.  But does the weedy kid who has zero interest in becoming an athlete really need physical education?  Does the aspiring writer really need the advanced science curriculum?  And I don’t think there is pretty much anyone who would say that they have needed to use everything from calculus in their every day life.

I assure you, you'll also need theoretical physics.  In German.

I assure you, you’ll also need theoretical physics. In German.

But now you’re an adult.  You’ve run the gauntlet of higher education, and you are out there making every day decisions. Your highly educated self is savvy and shrewd, right?  Nobody can dare pull the wool over your eyes.

Unless, of course, you go grocery shopping.  All the delicious foods you buy, and you save money, AND make the healthy choices!  You fill your cart full of tasty treats that will do nothing but keep you in the pink of health.

Damn.  You’re being lied to.  Saving money?  Hardly.  You’re buying less with your money as every year passes.  Companies are shrinking portions, but leaving the packaging the same.  So that stuff you bought for 4 bucks last year, is actually costing you more based on unit pricing.  You are getting less for your money, and as a result have to buy more to make up for it.  But you’re still getting the healthy choices by choosing the right products!  You have that going for you!

Sorry, no.  All the wording on the packages is entirely meaningless when it comes to health.  Cereals claiming to be “part of a balanced breakfast?”  Only true if sugar is part of a balanced breakfast.  When they picture the bowl of cereal along with toast, and fruit and a glass of milk… they are not telling you that the breakfast is just as balanced, and far healthier, without the cereal in the first place.  “Contains 9 essential minerals and vitamins!”  That’s the claim of Boy-ar-dee, Heinz and so many canned meals.  What they are not telling you is it’s because they are basically grinding up vitamins to put in their otherwise nutritionally useless slop. And this doesn’t address the even more nonsense claims like “new and improved” which is a study in contradiction.  Everything you are throwing in your cart is an obfuscated mess of quarter-truths and outright fabrication.

New and improved, contains the same minerals and vitamins with natural flavours that will cure astigmatism and maybe make your mother love you more.

New and improved, contains the same minerals and vitamins with natural flavours that will cure astigmatism and maybe make your mother love you more.

But don’t stop at the grocery store.  You are bombarded with lies about every single thing that you could possibly buy to enrich your otherwise dull and meaningless life.  Without these wonder products, it’s a miracle you drag your sorry carcass out of bed every day! I mean you’ve got:

Beer that makes you popular with women (Sorry ladies, as far as beer goes you are arm accessories for slightly befuddled douche-monkeys.)

Cars that make you experience life at a state of euphoria as soon as you get behind the wheel.

Cleaning products that will make you enjoy mopping and scrubbing to the point of orgasm.

I always wondered why her floors were always so spotlessly clean!

I always wondered why her floors were always so spotlessly clean!

None of it is true. It’s just manure-marketing to get your money.  So you defend against that.  They won’t get my money!  I’ll be very careful.  I’ll read the ingredients, I’ll shop the deals, I’ll make sure none of the outright lies affect me, I just won’t buy it.

But then you find out that it’s not just about your money.  It’s about your attention.  It’s about your adherence and loyalty too.  What you watch, what you read.

How?  Entertainment, news, internet.  All lying to you.

You watch reality TV, right?  At least you’re probably part of the 96% of the population with a TV and a spare hour or two that does.  It’s all manufactured.  There are so many different ways they set it up and influence it to list here.  But they have you swallowing dramatic twists, turns and events, that didn’t really happen.  Selective splicing of footage, planting people as participants, having producers decide outcomes.  It has all the writing and directing of a regular old TV show, under the banner of “reality.”  And it couldn’t be less real if they tried.

But that’s just TV.  The News is far more insidious.  They don’t want you to read the news.  They want you to be shocked, scared, panicked an sensationalized.  How do they do this?   Weasel words.  They say things that make you think every thing that comes out of their slimy fib-holes is truth.

A great example:  “Some people say.” They aren’t lying.  they can say it truthfully, because you know who said it?  the producers.  So technically, if the statement is “some people say that ” it’s both true and false at the same time.  Ditto for “studies have indicated” and “Some are concerned that…”

all dishonesty to sell the story to us.

Some studies indicate that some people believe Donald Trump has magnifcient hair.  Pictured:  The entire study focus group.

Some studies indicate that some people believe Donald Trump has magnificent hair. Pictured: The entire study focus group.

You cannot realistically get through the day without people lying to you.  But there is a solution.  You can buy my book.  It has 1001 tips and tricks to avoid being fleeced by the charlatans that would steal your time, money, and attention.  It’s only $29.99, and it contains essential methods to use!

Would I lie to you?


Shopping Cart Utopia

shoppingcart

We live in a world of why bother.  A society of not my problem, a system of why should I.  We see it every day, over and over, people doing things in such a way that creates minor to mid-range inconveniences for other people, to save us seconds worth of effort.

 We feel justified in this, because there are very few who are bucking that trend.  If nobody else is doing things to avoid disrupting the routines of MY day, why should I do anything to do that for others?  Really, everyone does it, right?  I’m not the bad guy here; it’s not that big a deal.

 But we see it, and it bothers us.  But it doesn’t bother us when we are the culprits, because in this great mess that we call civilization, its par for the course.  We must look out for ourselves, because nobody else is going to do it for us, and our time is precious. Spending it doing things to assist others on the piddling little details takes up our time.

 But what if we all did it?  What if each of us took the few extra moments to ensure life was just a fraction easier for everyone else?  This would include each of us, if everyone did so.  Can you imagine what it would be like?

 Life is hard.  So very hard.  Heartbreak, illness, stress, death, betrayal, disillusionment.  Our dreams all too often outstrip reality, and we find ourselves trudging through life with all the inconveniences just like sour cherries on top of our misery cake.  Imagine if we, as a people, collectively worked to take off those cherries.  To replace them with something that takes moments of effort, and tastes infinitely sweeter.

 I am thinking that people would think “nobody else would do it.” And “I don’t have the time for that.”

 Well, let me challenge you.  10 minutes.  10 dollars.  10 things.  Spend 10 minutes a day making the world a better place.  Spend 10 dollars a week doing the same.  And spend your life on 10 things to improve YOUR life, and the ability to do the same for others.

 Is 10 minutes a long time?  Not really. It’s but a third of your favorite sitcom.  It’s less than half of the average commute; it’s barely a blip during a movie.  I will grant that it’s an eternity when in the dentists chair.

 Too busy?  Can’t spare 10 minutes out of your day?  It’s not exactly like you have to string it together.  10 minutes, apportioned through various actions, don’t even add up quickly at all. 

 Let me give you an example.

 Let someone step on the train ahead of you.  2 seconds.  Hold the door for someone.  3 seconds.  Wave the driver trying to merge in heavy traffic to get in before you.  10 seconds.   Return your shopping cart back to the corral when finished. 30 seconds. Stop and help the stranger who dropped their papers on the ground pick them up.  30 seconds.  Give directions.  45 seconds. 

 When you engage in these tiny little slivers of time, you’ve made the world around you a better place.  In small imperceptible amounts, you have improved the life of those around you.  And it costs you all the effort of coming out of your whirlwind of existence for the time it takes your eyes to blink a few times. 

 And what about the 10 dollars?  It’s the same thing, using money instead of time.  Cover the few coins difference on the person ahead of you when they are searching desperately for a coin in their pocket.  Buy a coffee for a friend or coworker who looks like they could really use it.  Grab some inexpensive candy treats to share with your team.  Throw a few dollars in the homeless man’s hat.  This doesn’t mean that we should all do this. If you are someone struggling to feed our families, clearly you should be on the receiving end of this type of kindness.  Nor is it a maximum.  Those of us blessed with the funds to afford Hugo Boss suits, Louis Vuitton handbags or vacations on big boats… we should probably toss in just a little bit more in to the pot of good will.

 What does this gain us?  What is the monetary return for the investment of this time or this money?  Zero.  Not a thing.  But it’s like a glass of water to a thirsty man, and there is a great deal of thirst. As we alleviate the small, seemingly meaningless stresses and pains of each other, the world improves.  Life improves.

 And what about the last part?  The 10 things?  They are simply things that will make YOUR life better.  All of which cost you nothing other than the courage to do it.  Eliminating the bigger pains, makes the smaller ones so much easier to bear.  Making the path of your life better, makes it more possible to go through all the daily nuisances without as much worry and angst, and can even serve as catalyst for you to do it in the first place.

 This list is by no means comprehensive. There are innumerable things we could do to make our lives better.  But I focus on the ones nearest to me, and that cost nothing but guts and determination.

 

1)  Think of your worst habit.  Stop doing it.

2) Eliminate the toxic people from your life.  Do not allow those who would use you poorly, to remain.  You are worth more than that. Don’t give them a chance to do it to you again.

3) Allow the good people in to your life.  This will cost you time, but it is time well spent.  We only have so many years, fill them with people worth being around or with.

4) Rest.  Stop everything for a few moments every day.  Sleep just a few minutes more each night.

5) Play.  Don’t grow up all the way, ever.  Seek laughter.

6) Read.  Learn.  Understand more.

7) Express what you are really feeling to those you trust.  Don’t hide behind social niceties.

8) Do not allow injustice to stand.  If something is wrong, speak up.

9) Forgive yourself.  Each of you will know what you need to forgive yourselves of.  Then go on to deserve that forgiveness.

10) Plan epic things you want to do.  Do them.

 

I would be a hypocrite to say that I have accomplished any of this.  That I always manage to give 10 minutes up freely.  That I remember that I’m not the only one going through endless nuisance.  That I always remember that my money isn’t that valuable.  And that list I put only shows me how many things that I have yet to do.

 But close your eyes for 5 seconds (you can even take it from the 10 minutes for today) and imagine what life would be like if we all did this.  Then go out and be one of those who do.


Happy little lies

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When’s the last time you lied to yourself?    Stepped up to the mirror, and unleashed a horrid untruth at your own self,  and not only did so freely, but believed it too?

I know.  Ridiculous concept.  How can you even begin to lie to yourself?  We should know the truth, right?  And if we know it’s a lie, how could we possibly believe it?

Because we have no other choice.  Lying to ourselves is the only way we can cope.  In a world, in a universe, in a reality… that is cold, unfeeling, random, and unfathomable, we have to deliberately obfuscate and pretend.  We have to slap our hands over our “eyes” and hum an unintelligible tuneless drone to drown out the questions and discontent.

I sense disbelief.  I sense dismissal of the idea.  So let me throw some out for you.  Very common lies, simple on their face, insidious in their deception.

Cheaters never prosper.   Bullshit.  We all know this isn’t true.

Hard work is its own reward.  Bullshit.  All of us have trudged through mindless tasks enough to smell a rat.

What goes around comes around.

Smile and the world smiles with you.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, BULLSHIT.

and these are just dusty old sayings that we may or may or not spout off to others, or cling to ourselves.  The greatest lie, is when we pretend not to notice at all.  When we deceive ourselves to the point where we don’t even bother with reasons… we just close our eyes to reality.

we ignore imbalance and injustice with indifference.  Like cattle plodding after grass, we scarce acknowledge the slaughterhouse.

I can already hear the argument forming.  The old “yeah, we know life isn’t fair, get used to it”  criticism that can be thrown in the teeth of the negative Nancies as a placebo cure-all.  The real problem with that, it’s just as false a statement as the rest. Saying that life isn’t fair, suggests that there’s even some kind of scale in the first place.  Reality shows that there is no balance, either fair or crooked at all.  Stuff just happens.  Hang it all if you are unfortunate enough to get more than your “fair share” of misfortunes, but an indifferent universe has no measure.  It’s no more concerned with your mother’s terminal disease, than it is with the lucky bastard that plunks 5 bucks down on a convenience store counter, and walks away 30 million dollars richer from all the randomness.  It is implacable in its disregard of the tears of the woman who can bear no children as she sees the birth announcement for the fourth child of an acquaintance.

Perhaps I do a disservice to those who may read this that are happy with the illusions.  Perhaps it is a real case of ignorance being bliss, and I only serve to make people feel as empty about it as I have come to.

So if I can then turn it around, and offer the ONLY thing that gives any solace, any peace at all that I’ve been able to derive, then perhaps I can balance out the damage that I have done.  That small, (and it is so very small) balm to rub on the disillusionment, is, as maudlin as it sounds, love.

I don’t speak of romantic love, although it truly is a strange and comforting thing.  But the simple care and regard that you can offer to others as they tumble towards their end, and the same that you can accept back from them, in your blip of an existence.

The problem with it, is of course, is that it is more fragile than any of the illusionary statements that we could make instead. It’s like applying a band-aid to multiple compound fractures.  It doesn’t cover much.  But it’s something.

It’s true that love can hurt you just as much.  You can be betrayed, ignored or have it torn away from you in the blink of an eye.  The memory of having half of my being ripped away from me with the death of my child almost destroyed me.  It still might.  It is not something that you can ever look at and say that you can be ok.

But I was loved.  I was cared for.  In my deepest despair, I have been covered in a sea of tears by those who would desperately want a different reality for me, could they choose it.    And although it can never be enough, it IS something.  It’s the ONLY thing that has made an ounce of sense.

Which is why I beg that we all do it.  We all love as much as our hearts can bear.  Love your family, as much as you are able, love your friends, make your acquaintances your friends and love them too.  Don’t call it love if you are uncomfortable with it stated as such, but the premise remains the same.  Tell them you care through word or deed.  Fuck propriety.

I’ve learned through horrifying first hand nightmarish experience, you can become no more than a memory in the blink of an eye.

Find what solace you can.


Amanda Todd

I have a special request for our legal system.

I want 5 minutes.  Each.  In a small room with a locked door. With the little punks responsible for the incessant, endless and horrific bullying of Amanda Todd.

If this post is less than eloquent, you can attribute it to my seething rage.  So I ask for 5 minutes. Each.  And when they come out of that room, you would be assured that bullying anyone will be the last thing that any of them would ever do again.

I was bullied as a child.  My wife was bullied as a child.  In my case, I ended up dropping out of school, and taking a harder road to education, and life, for more than a decade after the last of the bullying I endured.  I survived my bullying, but it changed me.  It made me lest trustful of people.  It made me question my self-worth.  It made me sneer at anything complimentary directed my way, because I doubted its sincerity, but at the same time, left me gasping for the fresh air of approval from other people.

I won’t speak to the effects that bullying had on my wife.  It’s not something we discussed much, as if it was somehow a dark stain on our own characters because of something that occurred in the past, done by other people TO us, not because of us.  But something does stick out.  Cleaning out her Parents basement, we happened across old year books from her high school, where people had written hateful messages in it. 15 years later, you can still see the spiteful, petty, worthless opinion of small-minded people .  We threw out the yearbooks.  Why keep the record of other people’s cruelty any longer?  But the memories of it endure.  They never really go away.

I sincerely hope that Amanda’s parents do not blame themselves in any way for her death.  Please, dear people, don’t do it.  Don’t accept the blame.  There was nothing you could have done. Don’t listen to the self-righteous who will say that if you had have monitored Amanda better, had taken away her access to her phone or computer would have changed anything.  Don’t let other people make excuses for the filth that bullied your child.

My parents watched with endless sadness as I was bullied.  They wanted desperately to stop it, to help.  There was nothing they could do.  And I was fortunate that my bullying came before the era of instant message bullying that the garbage of the world now use.  I could escape some of my bullying by skipping school, hiding out away from the crowds.  Amanda had no such luxury.  Her bullies stalked and pursued her and drove her to the edge of madness, and when she reached that point, they pushed her off.

I want every, single, little piece of trash who was in on the bullying caught, and charged.  Every one.  They deserve nothing less, and deserve far more.  It is an absolute outrage that people, regardless of age, would engage in such reprehensible downright EVIL behaviour.

And I hope to God that this somehow gets read by some, or all of the people responsible.  Because I have a message for them.

You are worthless.  You are garbage. You are the shit we scrape off of our boots after we step in it. You are a stain on the human race.  It is Amanda that deserves to go on living, to have a good life, not you.  You deserve nothing but unending contempt and loathing from every citizen of this country, rather, every citizen of this world.

And for the rest of us, no silence.  Speak out until something is done.  Criminal charges for bullying.  Expulsions.  No tolerance at all. Make no excuses for them.  No wringing of our hands worrying about how it will spoil the future for the bully, if we come down on them like a ton of bricks.  Make it so that bullying leads to severe consequences.  Make it hurt so much that they regret the day they first drew breath.

And if we can do this, if we can speak as one voice and stand up to the bullies, by making them pay a heavier price than the cowards are willing to, maybe they’ll actually fuck off and leave others alone. Maybe, we can save the next girl or boy driven to despair by the endless cruelty.

But I’d prefer my 5 minutes with the little cockroaches.  It would be the longest 5 minutes of their pathetic lives.

THIS MUST STOP.


Positive thinking power outage

There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking. ~ Alfred Korbzybski

 Today I’m going to get up, and I’m going to face the day with no worries.  No matter what comes my way, I’ll overcome it, because I believe I can!  There isn’t anything that can stop me.  Through the powers of positive thinking, I will ultimately be successful, because a positive attitude is the most important part of anything you can do.

Yuck. 

Typing that was almost impossible.  My fingers kept trying to pull away from the keys in disgust.  For you see, I am a cynic.  I know the picture that people get in their minds.  Oh, great, a cynic.  Some doubting Thomas hunched over his keyboard with a frown on his face, a scowl on his mouth… and probably a unibrow.

 The world hates cynicism.  This is mantra that is spouted over and over.  Books are sold on the topic.  Motivational speakers have it as their raison d’être.  Think Positive!  Get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’!    And as a gullible populace, do we ever swallow it like the finest of wines.  One of the most popular speakers that use this principle is Tony Power.  He of the silk suits and permanent grins, who lead his faithful to 3rd degree burns while fire walking using good vibes for protection.  The most popular book on the subject in the last decade is “The Secret.”  The secret apparently is that you can affect your circumstances with a Vulcan mind meld to the universe, and get whatever you want.   It’s fortunate for all of you reading this that this isn’t a direct review of either Power or “The Secret” otherwise the rest of this post would be so expletive laden that it would be all but unreadable.

 You know the shtick, though.  Little Timmy is on the baseball team.  Coach tells him to visualize him hitting the ball out of the park, and it will happen!  The only thing standing between you and success is yourself, and your negative attitude.  And sadly enough, we have anecdotal examples all over the Internet like bad chain letters, talking about how because they believed something good could happen, it would.  An underdog sports team wins, and the reason they accomplished it was because they always believed they could.  The reason that Grandma is in remission from cancer is because of her positive energy and will to defeat it.  Every once in a while, Timmy belts a homer.

 And for every success story, for every example of us using the wonderful power of our minds to achieve greatness, there is a trash-heap of broken dreams and failures.  People who were so gosh darn positive that their cheeks hurt from smiling, and still it didn’t work.  Didn’t get the promotion, lost the sale, sat in the doctors office and got the bad news, another round of treatment is needed.  Timmy hits in to a series ending double play.

 All of this stems from us treating negativity as a character flaw. That cynicism is a bad thing. We start the criticism of it early. We tell our kids that they can be anything they want to when they grow up.  This of course, is one of those happy little lies we tell our kids, with about as much truth to it as Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.  (With hearty apologies for letting the cat out of the bag for those who still believe in old Saint Nick.) What our children can be depends on a gigantic cauldron of factors, many of which they have no control over.  The little boy with very poor vision isn’t going to be fighter pilot.  The tiny girl who will top out at 4’11” and 95 pounds isn’t going to be a firefighter like daddy is. The odds of the impoverished family being able to afford the Ivy League education required to make their child a doctor are low, and get even lower when the child isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. We read them the little engine that could for a bedtime story, but don’t tell them that the fact of the matter:  That more often than not, “I think I can” becomes “I thought I could.”  We are unable to accept that we cannot accomplish everything we set out to do, and believe that every story should have a happy ending.  Thank you Disney! 

 Fact of the matter is, a healthy dose of cynicism is beneficial to living your life.  Properly applied cynicism is not pessimism.  Pessimism is never thinking that there can be a good outcome to anything you try.   The only thing Pessimism is good for is jokes about glasses being half empty. Realism, a shorter way of saying healthy cynicism, is simply not going in to things with your eyes closed to the possibility of a negative outcome.  Add to this the fact that positive outcomes are rarely, if ever, because of positive attitude.  This doesn’t mean there should be no confidence in abilities, or belief that you can succeed, but remembering that the other things that make up for a good result are just as, if not more important.  Things such as situation, training, ability, preparedness, and sometimes downright good fortune, do more to give people outcomes that are beneficial.

 I work in a middle management position.  And I can say without a shadow of a doubt, if I approached my job with the attitude that everything is going to be wonderful just because I think it will, I would not remain employed for very long.  I would grin like an idiot and reassure my employers that everything is going to be just fine, while the department crashes and burns.  So many jobs, such as my own, or the aforementioned doctor and firefighter MUST be able to weigh situations with the appropriate level of cynicism.  They need to make intelligent, informed decisions based on the evidence at hand, not on some euphoric miasma of happy thoughts.  In the case of my job, a few dollars (and my job) could be lost.  In other examples, peoples life are at stake.  It is the people who are cynical and negative that are better prepared to face the harsh realities of life:  That the universe doesn’t really care that much if you succeed.  Bad stuff happens.  It happens a lot.  And only a very few individuals win more than they lose, and succeed more than they fail.  It is the “Negative Nancies” that view situations with possible bad outcomes, and are able to avoid them because they prepare for the eventuality.

 Does this mean that you should think that everything will go bad?  No, of course not.  What this means is that you should have a sane estimation of your abilities when undertaking a task.  If it’s out of your reach, don’t cross your fingers and give yourself a pep talk, do what you need to do to get it within reach.   You should measure the probable outcome of events, and figure out what can go wrong first.  We all do this anyways.  We pack an umbrella just in case it rains.  We have a spare tire in our car.  Take that principle and apply it to everything you do.  When the failures come, (and they will) you will have been prepared to handle it all along.

And for God’s sake, someone tell Timmy to practice if he wants to hit a home run.