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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

3 Things That are Destroying America

I'm going to apologize right off the bat, because this is a really long post -  but I figure that since I went without posting for so long, it evens out.

I have issue with all the hollering about morality being lost in America, what with the "Gays throwing their agenda in everyone's faces" and those pesky garden gnomes taking over world travel and all. 

I'm offering you good deals, but really I'm bartering for your soul.

See, it seems that everyone wants to be heard, but no one is willing to listen.  We're pushing laws that "protect" and alienate all in the same breath, complaining about immigration when in reality probably 99% of us are descendants of immigrants, and pointing fingers any way that seems appropriate at the moment.  Oh, and apparently everyone hates Obama and everything is either Bush's or Obama's fault - I'm not even really sure which anymore.

So I've decided that there isn't a morality issue in America - there's a humanity issue.  This is a humor blog and I do throw jokes around because I make a point of not taking anything too terribly seriously, but obviously people are really, really torn on just what it is that's destroying the integrity of this great nation. 

The obvious notwithstanding.  
Just kidding Charlie, I think you're great.

Anywho, here's my two cents on the whole issue:

Everyone’s Offended, and For All the Wrong Reasons

I’m a white girl. Let’s just get that out of the way up front. 

So let’s say, for instance, that one of my African American friends (because we have to be PC and all) tells an off-colored “racist” joke about black people.  And they think it’s hilarious.  Can I laugh?

I really can’t answer that, but I laugh anyway.  If it’s a black person telling a joke about black people and they think it’s funny, then that means they think you should think it’s funny as well, and that you should be comfortable enough with your friendship to know that laughing at the racist joke they tell is okay, right?

Otherwise you get this look, and then it's REALLY awkward, because then you're implying 
that black people aren't funny.  So just laugh, already.

Except that America has taught us that it’s not okay to poke fun at the racial, gender, and other tensions that very clearly exists in our world.  Not even if it’s among friends and the person telling the joke is the person the joke makes fun of.  Blond telling a dumb blond joke?  Nope, not funny.  Jew telling the joke about a Rabbi, a Priest, and a Lawyer?  Nuh-uh.  Black person telling a joke about putting Velcro on the ceiling to stop a black kid from bouncing on the bed (and yes, this totally happened)?  Not even a little. Fat person quipping about zipcodes and gravitational pull?  Eh… Maybe.

And why?
Because someone will get offended.

Not the blond telling the blond joke or the Jew telling the Jew joke or the Black person telling a Black joke – no, it will be some random person who isn’t themselves a part of the group being poked at, but a person with a blond sister or a Jewish or Black friend, who will gasp and tell you you’re a horrible person for even thinking that an off-colored joke might be funny, no matter where it came from.

And gay jokes?  Ah Hell no, honey.  Even though I personally know plenty of gay people who happen to have a pretty impressive stock of awesomely humorous gay jokes.

If we do laugh, it’s out of discomfort.  Don’t believe me?  Watch Carlos Mencia or Lisa Lampinelli and pay close attention when the camera pans to the audience.  No one is safe with either of these two, and I guess somehow that makes the racial/gender/lifestyle jokes a little easier to accept, but no one in that audience is laughing in good conscience.  It’s like farting in the middle of a crowded hospital elevator, where you’ve got a doctor on one side, a nurse on the other, some pregnant lady dragging three or four small children with her, and some poor chap wheeling an oxygen machine on the other – it is funny, but you’re not supposed to think it’s funny because it’s socially taboo, so you giggle nervously because it’s so awkward and inappropriate that you don’t know how else to act.

The irony is, laughter is universal; as is stupidity, awkwardness, and brain-fart moments.  We all have them.  We’re also aware of centuries-old stereotypes and the fact that they’re obviously not true.

You know, except for all gay men being wizards.  And awesome.

So why are we jumping on the offended bandwagon for everyone else?  Overcompensation.  That’s it.  We want all the other races and genders and lifestyles of the world to know how “okay” we are with the differences and that we have their backs (and please don’t kill me for laughing at that borderline inappropriate joke). 

 Entitlement and an Excuse For Not Thinking for Ourselves

The only thing less surprising than the fact that cell phones don't have a warning label that tells us they are for external use only (yet) is that apparently America needs to be told what we should and should not do with everything.
Because what happens if the label on that KY Jelly doesn't clearly say that it's for grown-up people only and that appliance doesn't clearly say that only food items should be placed within it?

There is no picture here because I think your imagination 
is good enough to not need an illustration, 
and no one really wants to see that.
I hope.
I really, really hope.   

...and then Jim Bob there sues, because obviously a sane person would be attracted to their Cuisinart and why wouldn't they try to court it, not knowing that this isn't some demented sci-fi program and there's no such thing as household appliance-shaped cyborg companions (yet)?
So while the Judge and jury are still shaking their heads trying to figure out what the hell they just heard, America is becoming that movie with Luke Wilson about the dumb guy who gets cryogenically frozen and unthaws in a world where his sidekick is a hooker and his negative-number IQ is higher than anyone else's on the planet. 

Don't act like you don't also think this movie is more horror than comedy.  

How does this happen?  Readers, I'm pulling out the sub-bullets here, because there are so many answers to this question that I can't sum them up in one single paragraph.
  • Our kids get awards for just showing up.  I know, "but Sandra, kids are kids and they need to feel good about themselves no matter what.  Their self-esteem is pivotal to their future development and ability to become strong, independent adults!"  ...except that self-esteem doesn't hinge on merely existing.  Think about it:  "You didn't practice and your jumpshot could have been executed more efficiently by a monkey on a pogo stick, but you're here, yay!  Here's an award to display proudly with your collection - not because you worked hard, not because you're extra talented, not because you're a great team player - but because you're here, and also breathing.  Way to go, sport!" 
Readers, self-esteem is built on support, perseverance, and accomplishment.  If little Junior gets an award just for showing up, what is there for him to work toward?  What pushes him to up his game and become even better at what he's doing?  

Further, let's apply this logic to the adult world.  Do you get a ribbon every time you show up to work?  Unless you work in a Kindergarten class, odds are the answer is no.  If you grow up accustomed to being rewarded just for pulling your butt out of bed every morning, why should you do anything beyond pulling your butt out of bed every morning?  

I'm all for boosting kids' self-esteem, but let's be realistic here:  in the real world, there are no "participant" awards.  There are those who bust their asses and get things done, and those who will forever be trying to con their way into staying in their parents' basement "just a little longer, Mom. I swear I have something lined up."  

Which one do you want your kid to be?

  • We cater to our kids.  This is a tricky one to explain.  Of course our kids become -or should become - top priority the moment their existence is known to us.     Still, I bet if you ask someone whose native country isn't America, they will tell you that we are insane.  Why?  We worship our children.  We build or entire world around our kids, rather than compromising and making our world suitable for the kids while teaching our kids how to function in our worlds.  Still confused?
If you visit the in-laws, generally you're catered to the first day or so, and then you're on your own.  You're in their world.  Sure, there are tweaks here and there to make you feel more comfortable, but for the most part you have to adjust to their home and routine.  

Kids are the same way, at least to a point.  The first couple of years, it's all about the baby, because baby can't get off his lazy bum and go to the kitchen to make his own damn sammich.  

After that first couple of years though, what happens?  Baby has to learn not to stick his fingers in electrical outlets or run around smacking people, because unless you live in a cave in some little piece of paradise completely off the grid (in which case you either wouldn't be reading this or have wicked-awesome Wi-Fi reception), there will always be electrical outlets and people to smack.  It's not a baby's world, and our kids have to learn to live in it without us chasing behind them their entire lives covering outlets and apologizing to the random strangers they just ninja-slapped.

...and that's where many parents fail.  I'm not pointing fingers, for many years I was such a helicopter mom that I was almost legally required to obtain a pilot's license.  Point is, we spend so much time altering our space and lives to accommodate our children that when they reach that inevitable stage of independence, they're completely at a loss and so are we. 

"Mom, where can I plug this in?"  "I don't know son, I forgot where all the 
outlets were years ago.  And please stop smacking Aunt Sally."

Hate Is the Default Reaction to Differences

...and here's the biggest enemy we face in our country today.  It's not Atheists or Catholics or Muslims or Gays or Immigrants or Garden Gnomes - it's a lack of knowledge paired with fear, which culminates into a nice steaming pile of - you guessed it - hatred.

But Sandra, you're probably saying, I don't judge anyone, I love everyone!  And I know that's true, because you're awesome.  But here's the thing - we all do it.  It's ingrained in us to shy away from things we don't understand, because we really don't know what level of danger might lie in a culture or lifestyle we know nothing about.

So why don't we educate ourselves about them?  Wouldn't that remove the fear aspect and make us more comfortable with differences? 

Because for most of us, branching out and learning about things outside of our own comfort zones feels like the equivalent of being the slutty cheerleader in a bad horror movie who hears something moving in the basement and is *cough* randomly *cough cough* chosen to go check it out.  Only she doesn't want to go check it out.  It's dark in there, and scary, and no one can blame her for hesitating and hanging onto the door like a toddler who really, really doesn't want to go to his first day of Kindergarten.  

And even though this isn't a horror movie and what's bumping in there is just some schlub like us trying to find some place to plug in his computer so he can play an RPG with his friends online, our brains imagine, in that unknown void, a monstrous, blood-sucking creature bent on stealing our souls and humping our dry remains.

Pictured:  Blood-Sucking Monster.

For most of us, considering a new viewpoint feels a lot like betraying our own.  Most people aren't content to share ideas and debate topics and agree to disagree on a few points, they're out to convert the other person, friendship and respect be damned.  People get so heated defending their own feelings and beliefs that they fail to realize how what may be perfectly acceptable for them isn't even in the same zipcode as acceptable for someone else, and that - NEWSFLASH - it isn't up to them what someone else should or shouldn't be doing with their life.    

So the lesson here today, dear readers, is to laugh more, expect less, and accept that we're not some race of clones popping out of perfectly identical molds.  Oh, and keep an eye on those garden gnomes, those creepy little suckers are obviously up to something sinister.

Until next time...

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