Published December 2, 2011
You know that scene in that old Simpsons episode when Homer gets a job at a bowling alley and all of the sudden he feels happy and content and his posture improves and he loses a bunch of weight and his hair grows back?
And then when he learns that Marge is pregnant again and he’ll need to go back to work for Monty Burns and instantly his belly sort of plops out, all his hair falls off and he slumps down like a defeated mollusc?
You saw that, right? Wonderful episode.
That scene pretty much nails what happens every time I go on, and subsequently return from, vacation.
I’ll leave the country and stop imbibing news and angry blogs and Facebook statuses about Icelandic politics and politicians and officials and banksters and celebrities, and slowly but surely a weight is lifted from my shoulders and I start feeling and acting all happy and content and I lose weight and my hair pretty much stays the same, but it’s more vibrant and voluminous and I get these really cool curls.
Then I’ll be on my way home and a flight attendant will hand me the latest copy of Fréttablaðið. And, you know, just looking at the cover makes my gut plop out again and by the time I’ve leafed through the thing I’m back to being my old, sad, miserable slob of a self. I’ll hunch in my seat (20A if I can help it) and shiver, nursing a G&T while dreading the fact that I am once again throwing myself into all that wonderful, enlightened, intelligent, and rational discourse.
And I’ll wonder if my own contributions to our ongoing conversation (if whatever it is we’re doing can be thought of as ‘a conversation’) are of the same ilk, and I’ll usually reach the conclusion that they probably are, even though I try my best to avoid this (it is generally much easier—not to mention more satisfying—to find faults in others than in oneself).
I’ll try to think of ways out. Not for myself, but for all of us. At which point do we stop all the shouting and get back to being, like, nice to one another and not assuming everyone has an evil ulterior motive with everything they do and that everyone that doesn’t completely agree with us about everything is a sociopath or stupid or both.
(Not that there aren’t evil and stupid sociopaths out there that are totally willing to throw everyone and everything under the bus for their own personal gain. There are plenty of those. But I refuse to believe that such human stains make up the majority of us, and I don’t think we should let these bad examples taint our views of our brothers and sisters. Most people I’ve met are pretty nice and thoughtful when given the chance).
At which point do we acknowledge that we are mostly in this together, and we are all humans that probably all share the same dreams of inhabiting a peaceful and pleasant community where our siblings and children (and we!) can grow up and make the most of themselves in.
(We all want that, right? It seems like a pretty solid and reasonable goal.).
There has been a lot of anger ever since a lot of us realised we’d sort of been living a lie for the majority of the ‘90s and ‘00s, and there still is a lot of anger and this is totally understandable and it was definitely provoked. And angry energy can be useful for a lot of things—it certainly helped us accomplish some cool stuff in January of 2009.
But it’s probably a bit like sugar or hard drugs or popular soft drink Mountain Dew. It gives you a sudden rush of energy, and then you fizzle away and feel all tired and ruined. Angry people are pretty apt at destruction and deconstruction (those things were very much needed here, and in some areas still are) but they are rather poor at listening and empathy and building stuff and fixing it (those things are definitely needed here).
Oh I’m probably being totally naïve here. I’m a pretty naïve guy, and this whole ‘all of us at our core just want to coexist peacefully and build a nice society for our children’ shtick is likely far too simplistic and hopeful.
Folks that say this is a ‘dog eat dog’ world are probably right. But I am not interested in living in such a world, and I think I’ll just stick to my simplistic naïveté for now and pretend most people are good and well intentioned and can be trusted (except those who can not—even if I’m naïve, I’ll still try to learn from experience). It serves to make my life a tad more pleasant, and the worst that could happen is some dogs eat me.
Even as those dogs tear me to shreds and devour my carcass, that carcass will spend its last, painful minutes thankful for having enjoyed a relaxed and joyous life of not being a dog that eats other dogs and thinks all the other dogs are out to get it.
OK that was fun. Now: Happy Holidays and Merry Xmas and etc. etc. May you spend lots of good times with your family and friends in the coming month, and may you eat lots and lots of delicious food (and no dogs)!