Monday, November 21, 2011

Week of 11/21/2011

Some Lessons In Life
– by David Matthews 2

As of the posting of this column, I’ll be 45.

Not forty and not fifty; right smack there in the middle. Right at the age for people to send me junk about home mortgages, but not yet old enough to get the junk about reverse-mortgages.

I don’t get too many chances to do an actual “birthday column”, so I figured now would be a good time to share with you some simple things that I’ve learned so far. These are little things that I’ve picked up about this messed-up reality that we live in, and some of them have gone unnoticed, and thus unheeded.

Now let’s get brutally honest here… I’m not going to claim to be an expert in life… because if I was, then a lot more people would be reading this column and you’d be hearing about me in larger online circles. But I’d like to think that at some point in the near future, more people would hear what I have to say, so it’s best to get these out of the way now, when the time is right, and then five or ten years down the line you guys can say “Yeah, I remember this… why didn’t we listen to him back then?” (Yes, I know it’s delusional at this point, but, hey, so is hoping that anything resembling my birthday wishes come true.)

So here goes…

Saying something a million times does not make it true. It just makes you stubborn… or obsessed… or stupid, or even all of the above. Or, worse yet, the universe will actually conspire to ensure that it will never, ever, ever happen simply because you are saying it over and over and over again. The universe is like that… but that’s for a later point.

Think about it: you have people in this world that proclaim to their dying breath that a document called “The Bible”, which has been written and re-written and re-interpreted and re-written and re-interpreted countless times over the centuries, is somehow “eternal and unchanging”. I’m sorry, but if you’re reading that thing in modern-day English, then you cannot claim that it is “eternal and unchanging”. And if you’ve ever played the team-building game called “Switchboard”, then you know how easy it is for mere mortals to get the spoken word wrong, never mind the supposed word of a deity.

It’s all guesswork! Sorry, but it is. Doctors, teachers, scientists, computer programmers, auto mechanics, economists, no matter how many degrees they have, no matter how much they know, it’s still all guesswork for them. They’re not all-seeing or all-knowing. When you go to them for a problem, it’s still all guesswork. They only difference is that they know more about the subject than most other people, so they have a better chance of guessing right. That’s all that it means. I’ve guess right more times than the so-called “economic experts” these past few decades. That doesn’t mean I know something they don’t. It just means my guesses have been more accurate than theirs.

I can summarize the entire TV series “House” for you… and bear in mind that I really like this series, so what I’m saying is not done in spite. Here it is: problem, title credits, guess, fail, guess, fail, guess, fail, guess, fail, forgot something, guess, succeed, end credits. Strip away the characters and the rotating patient list and that’s what you get. You get a series of guesses before someone guesses correctly, and often it’s because of something that is forgotten or was kept a secret. The mystery is always in trying to figure out what that “something” is.

And isn’t it funny that these TV doctors instantly know every possible disease and ailment and genetic defect on the spot, no matter how obscure it is? How often do you see them cracking open a medical journal? I know, I know… too boring. They’d rather show House’s deadpan humor at telling other patients that they’re not really sick but they should change some part of their lives or stop having affairs while he’s popping pain pills like Tic-Tacs.

Numbers do not make crazy things sane! How is it that Reverend Billy-Ray Bob of the Republic Trailer Park can be dismissed as a flake if he says that he gets regular messages from God, but that Presidential contender William Raymond Robert of the “Republican” Party is seen as “sane” when he makes the same claim? When has sanity become something defined by TV-Q and how many Twitter followers and Facebook “likes” someone has? If Trailer-Park Billy is Koo-Koo for Cocoa-Puffs, then so must GOP Billy.

In fact, I will come out and say that numbers make crazy people even more dangerous. Look at what happened with Jonestown if you don’t believe me. Do you really want to compound that level of crazy with the power to nuke this world into a cinder? No? Then stop treating it a prerequisite for the Oval Office!

Yes “it” really can happen “there”! I don’t know how many times I have to hear some suburbanite cry out that a certain kind of crime is “not supposed to happen” there. Security gates and video cameras do not keep out every crime. I have seen people come up with ways to bypass them simply because they’re an “inconvenience”. And I also know that maintenance people that don’t care about fixing these kinds of things until after “the unthinkable” happens; no matter how many times someone complains about them.

It can happen, it does happen, and the only thing that separates your neighborhood and “those places” is that the people that live in “those places” aren’t operating in a constant delusional state. And whatever you do, please stop bringing it up in the media, because whether you know it or not, you’re actually continuing the myth that there really is “someplace” where “it” can never really happen.

That leads me to the next one….

There is no “bottom level” of human depravity. There is a video series I watch every week over at called “What The (F-word) Is Wrong With You”. The guy that hosts it gets a regular supply of news stories of human stupidity and depravity that he shares with his listeners/viewers. Many involve the State of Florida and for some reason he cannot have a week’s worth of stories that does not involve someone getting naked and arrested. You watch that series after a few weeks and you’ll realize that if someone can think “it”, then “it” will be ingested, injected, incinerated, defecated on, or fornicated upon at some point. And not in that order, either.

And speaking of a lack of “bottom”…

Hypocrisy knows no bounds! There is a reason why hypocrisy is so flagrant in society… and that is because nobody gets punished for committing it! There are no real consequences for being a hypocrite! Just look at Newt Gingrich if you don’t believe me. He’s never had to account for his hypocrisy. He’s even boasted, according to one of his ex-wives, that it “doesn’t even matter” that he’s a hypocrite.

We constantly talk about ethics and morals, and yet nobody wants to hold a hypocrite to account for their double-standard. They should lose all credibility in common discourse, removed from the media’s rolodex. Instead, people like Gingrich are given fat contracts with cable news channels and are touted as White House contenders. And all the while they complain about ethics and morals in society, the very two things they have demonstrated to lack themselves.

And that leads me to…

There is such a thing as luck. The person that doesn’t have luck on their side knows that it exists, while the person that has it will adamantly refuse to admit its very existence, never mind its essential importance in their own success. Yes, it is the most common case of hypocrisy in human discourse.

There are people today that are successful despite their talents, despite their skills, and despite their contacts. They will tell you that they were simply at the right place at the right time. But they will bristle at the very suggestion that luck had “anything to do” with it. Hypocrites!

Luck does play a role in this world. It provides the opportunity for people to either succeed or fail. Good luck provides that opportunity. It was how an upstart computer service like America Online was able to buy up Time Warner in the late 1990’s in a deal that had shocked the world. Luck gave Steve Case the opportunity to use his company’s wealth in a big way. From that point on, though, it was on his company to keep Time Warner going, and that’s where it failed.

Think about all of the relationships that got started from mere happenstance. Good luck provides opportunities such as those. Now look at the people who find “the person of their dreams” and then realize that relationship can never happen because they met that person too late. That, too, is a matter of luck; just not the good kind.

And that brings me to the last lesson for now…

The Universe is cruel and malicious. I’ve gone beyond complaining about it at this point. Even with the grace of angels and the best laid plans of mice and men, this universe has demonstrated to me that it has an unending supply of misery to heap on people, especially when those people can afford it the least.

It is the malicious nature of the universe that can allow for a country like Japan to get hit with an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear meltdown, one after the other, while still trying to recover from the Great Recession. Only a cruel universe can create the circumstances for liars and thieves to propel themselves beyond normal accountability, to tempt people with dreams of happiness and then systematically turn those dreams into nightmares, and to ruin the lives of millions so that a slim minority can pompously proclaim themselves to be “risk-takers” when they risk nothing themselves.

Yes, there is plenty of misery and despair that is committed by human hands. The problem is that the universe does not help when it just piles on that misery and despair with more and more of it, and all the while teasing them with dreams of a future they will never have.

Oh and you know how some people claim that “God answers all prayers and sometimes the answer is ‘no’”? Well that’s total BS, because nobody asks a question where the answer is not only “no” but then the person asking it is penalized with even more misery. Plus you automatically forfeit any claim that said deity is “good” when it pulls that kind of stunt.

But, like I said, I’m beyond complaining about it at this point. This is reality. Accept it as you wish, and consider yourself blessed if you have the luxury of denying it. The malicious nature of this universe does not care either way.

And who knows? Maybe when my next birthday comes around, I’ll be given better life-lessons. One can still dream…


Philski said...

Hey--kind of a downer column. I know things aren't perfect, but they can get better. Hope things will improve and that you have a happy birthday! I also hope you got the gift I sent. Wish it could've been more, but the comp took a great deal more than I was expecting. Have a good one Adopted Bro!! You're even older adopted Bro Philski AKA Monstah!! :-)

Chuck Doswell said...

Actually, I like what you're saying here, D2! I've definitely been very lucky ... although I like to say that I was prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that fell into my lap. But luck certainly was involved ... good luck for me. Best wishes, my friend!