<<< First of all, I want to express my condolences to the people of Paris and France as well as the families of those affected by the terrorist attacks that just happened. It’s so sad but we have to be careful not to hate just because others share commonalities with the perpetrators. This post, which I had been mulling for some time, is pertinent in a lot of ways. >>>
I wrote more than 4 years ago about how as I became older, I increasingly felt the need to express my opinion. That was back when Facebook wasn’t nearly as popular and things were a little different. I always looked upon my blog as a way to share my thoughts and opinions to hopefully make people think. In this way, I might influence the world. I might as well take advantage of the fact that the internet is an amazing forum from which we can express ourselves. But recently, things have gotten ugly… and hateful… and divisive. It’s getting to the point that opinions are becoming so extreme and polarizing that they keep us from getting along. I blame this on many factors.
Because opinions can be given anonymously, people feel protected to spout off how they really feel and that’s not necessarily a good thing. They don’t have to look you in the eye or meet you to realize that you are also just another human. It’s disheartening to know how many people hate others just for their ethnicity or religion. Ultimately, some thoughts are better kept to yourself. And by sharing such thoughts, the fervor increases and others are emboldened to spread more hatred
Humans will always have prejudices and biases against others who are not like themselves. It’s in our nature from infancy. We can try to eliminate it for adults, and the situation is getting better, but it doesn’t look like it will ever go away completely. Many recent events in the world continue to bring our differences to the forefront. We have had unjustified shootings of blacks by police, the Rebel flag coming down at government buildings as a result of shootings at a black church, ISIS and anti-Muslim sentiment, anti-immigration feelings against Hispanics. The internet is full of hatred and vitriol from all sides and it’s getting out of hand. We all have opinions and the internet and social media give each of us a worldwide soapbox. What gets me is how people are offended for themselves, offended for others and how others think the people being talked about have no right to be offended. I’m writing this blog post to say that taking offense is the right of the object of the conversation, not anybody else and definitely not the originator of the potentially offensive thought.
Life in North America often revolves around cars. Our streets, houses and places of business are designed to accommodate cars and trucks to allow us mobility and freedom. Even in more densely populated cities where public transportation is more available and practical, transportation happens in a taxi, Uber or Lyft vehicle. As I’ve mentioned before in a prior blog post, we move fast in vehicles, to the point that one false move could mean instant death. That’s why being a good driver is so important.
Not only can driving competence keep you alive, but it can save you money on insurance, and hassle from car accidents. Being a good driver also can keep your friends and family out of harm’s way. How important should this be in selecting a mate with whom you want to have children? I say very.
Besides, the less tentative a driver you are, the more confident you can be in daily life. You can proudly say you’ll share in the driving and not worry about what others will think. You can parallel park in tight spots thereby saving time and fuel.
I’ve thought about this for a while (which shouldn’t surprise any of you who know me,) and my being hooked on the Discovery Channel television show Naked and Afraid is what most recently inspired me to share what I’ve noticed. It dawns on me that although humans are mammals like so many other animals that have lived in the wild for hundreds of millions of years, we are so far removed from being animals that we have become unnatural.
The same primal urges drive us, but we can’t survive without food, shelter, and written laws. Even in “civilized” societies, we often barely survive due to war, famine, and resource depletion. Perhaps part of it is due to evolution. We don’t have hair covering our bodies, (well, at least most of us.) Beyond that though, whether we are herbivores or omnivores, unlike any other creature, we must shape our land, grow plants, capture and raise animals and alter our environment to survive.
Of course we all have to accept it. There’s no going back. But we should fully acknowledge it. We’re not any good at being hunters without weapons. Camping with equipment is not surviving in nature. It’s spending time in nature with lots of artificial assistance.
That’s fine but even though we live in artificial surroundings, they are immersed in the natural world. Yet we still collectively have the audacity to abuse our environment and the planet on which we depend. Last time I checked, it’s the only habitable one we have. Thankfully some societies are realizing that we need to save the planet but too many of us deny the fact that our ecosystem is like a house of cards that can fall down.
We humanize animals as if they should respect our property. As I’ve written before, we should all remind ourselves that animals and nature aren’t evil. Besides, the animals like spiders, birds, snakes and squirrels were in our neighborhoods way before we were. We love nature from afar but don’t want it to get in the way of our artificial lives. If a spider comes in our house, many of us kill it while throwing verbal insults at it as if it personally did something to us. It’s just trying to make a living.
What makes this all worse is that we actively seek out animals to bother them or kill them. There are the educational TV shows which are admirable for increasing awareness of animals but the people on the shows do things like go into dens and bug the hell out of animals. Others hunt just for sport or the thrill of the chase. I don’t care what anybody says but unless the intent is to eat the animal, hunting is wrong. It’s not a sport unless it’s evenly matched hand and teeth to hoof and teeth combat.
Psychologically, humans are rare animals. Things gross us out. We get scared in the dark. We are so far from being animals and so far from being natural. At least we have the heat, air conditioning and the internet.
Do you know when the games are on, especially games against rivals or games in your city if you live away from your hometown?
Do you set aside time to watch the games on TV at least for 10% of the games?
Do you know at least 3 starting players and one bench player on the team?
Does your team’s winning or losing make you unusually emotional?
Have you cried when your team lost a major game (even if only a little bit?)
Do you prioritize watching post-season or play-off games over all other activities?
Have you been a fan consistently and without even one year off during losing seasons?
Have you not switched loyalties for reasons of team competitiveness?
Have you not switched loyalties even though you have moved to another city, state, or country?
Do you own at least one t-shirt, sweatshirt, mug or keychain with your team’s logo on it?
Have you been to at least one game for your team in the last two years?
Does it feel wrong to own or wear clothes that support another team?
If you can answer yes to all of the above then congratulations, you are a "real" true fan of your team. If not, then sorry, you are not. It’s that simple. If you want to become an almost real fan, you can make up for most of the rules but not rules 7, 8, and 9. That’s alright though. Your team can still use your support. Just don’t pretend that you are a mega fan. Nobody likes a wannabe. True fandom is an earned privilege, not an occasional right.
Most of us work hard at what we do and many of us take satisfaction in doing our jobs. But every day I see society honor only a select subset of professions with extreme reverence and it’s getting a bit annoying. Apparently, some professions deserve holidays while others don’t even deserve a minute’s thought. Of course, jobs whose practitioners put their life on the line deserve extra support and honor. But for those professions whose practitioners don’t put their life at stake shouldn’t be put on more of a pedestal. It’s not that they don’t deserve to be honored and respected, but so does everyone else that does a hard day’s work in a way that contributes to society. They all do things that keep the gears of our society and economy turning. They enable other people to get their jobs done, survive, be healthy, be entertained and to lead happy lives.
In the immortal words of Whitney Houston, “the children are our future;” parents and teachers are important in getting kids educated and started on the right path. But what extra credit do the engineers who design the computers they use and the manufacturing workers who build the school buses get? None.