Friday, May 8, 2020

Let Trump help you learn to be a better person

     A neighbor on Facebook, listing the joys of lockdown.
     “No school shootings,” she begins. “TRAFFIC is gone, GAS is affordable, BILLS extended ...”
     She goes on, quite a bit. Air is cleaner. “The world quieter.”
     The list ends with this confident assertion: “I’m pretty sure this was God’s way of telling us to slow down and focus on what is important!!”
     That old trickster, God. He does have His mysterious ways, doesn’t He? Setting the lives of millions on fire, just so we fortunate few can enjoy the warm glow and toast marshmallows on their burning homes.
     Unlimbering the rhetorical bazooka I always keep conveniently slung over my shoulder, I squinted into the gunsight, seeing the tiny figure of my neighbor, smiling over her freshly-coined public wisdom. My finger tensed.
     Then I sighed, lowered my weapon, and decided to demonstrate my wit and humanity in a novel fashion: by saying nothing.
     Sure, I could have archly pointed out that hiding in the basement could be fun, provided you have a comfortable, well-stocked basement. But not everybody does. These are excruciatingly tough times, and if the scythe hasn’t swung in your direction, yet, the least you can do is not crow about it.
     But you can’t scold a joyful person into silent gratitude. Just as you can’t shame a sad one into abandoning their sorrow as insignificant. It’s graduation time. My neighborhood is festooned with college flags, congratulatory signs, balloons, big orange and blue Illini I’s painted on lawns. Online, bursts of milestone festivity, shadowed with a definite sense of loss. No commencement. No prom. It’s not fair! After seeing a few, I considered creating a meme: a soft sepia passport photo of Anne Frank, with the tagline, “Not every teen got to go to prom.” That’ll show ‘em. Think of the retweets! Dozens!
     I also held that back. I’m not the coronavirus mullah, wandering cyberspace in my long white beard and black robes, taking a reed switch to the legs of anybody who dares be too happy or too sad. I don’t want to show up at the virtual wake for high school life and castigate the mourners.

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  1. Fine column. I'll only add that it's especially annoying when the "tape measure" you refer to is yielded by someone who always tops your complaints with their own -- the type of person who says, "How dare you mourn something as trivial as the passing of Marshall Field's when I have a chronic illness!" (The Tribune, years ago, printed a letter from a woman saying exactly that.)

  2. Who said you can't be funny during these hard times. Loved the "rhetorical bazooka." All I've got is a measly sling shot that is quickly running out of marbles. Keep it up and we'll all go to perdition laughing ourselves silly.


  3. "The corrosive power of ego." A nice phrase and useful to have so fine an example displayed with each presidential utterance. Lets hope it's something we can soon look back on.


    1. It's hard to feel sorry for Donald Jenius Trump, but what else are we to do?


  4. "it isn’t all about me. Or you." Quite the vexing concept to bear in mind, despite having it pointed out occasionally. Though I shoulder only a rhetorical cap gun, easy targets are everywhere these days!

    I also was struck by "the central lesson is the corrosive power of ego." Our Maximum Leader thinks he's been treated worse than Lincoln. Imagine! He is clearly much, much more interested in picking fights on Twitter than in consoling the bereft or encouraging the distressed. Who knew that electing an incompetent, deceitful, sociopathic President would not be in the nation's best interest in a time of crisis? Or any other time, for that matter.

    This tweet nails the evolution of Cult 45 from the early days to now, when folks are goaded on by their hero to risk their lives marching on capitals: “The real trick turned out to be getting people to shoot *themselves* on Fifth Avenue”

  5. Loved your meme idea, and, snarker that I am, I actually DID it, at a private messageboard I've been a member of for the past fifteen years. And it was even a soft sepia photo of Anne Frank, along with the years of her birth and death, and I added the tagline, “So you didn't go to prom? BFD. A lot of other kids didn't get to go, either."

    And did anybody rip me a new one?

    Nope. Their replies described the reasons that THEY skipped THEIR proms, too, for various reasons. They went to New York, or got dressed up and went bowling, or ate a fancy dinner. One even ditched the prom so she could get run off and get married. And the marriage has lasted for 63 years.

    They just didn't get it. Either the memo, or the meme. At all. What a waste of good snark.

  6. What an excellent, hilarious and thought provoking read. I'm so glad you did not waggle your finger and poo poo your neighbor's beliefs. I agree, it's time we all start thinking about what others are going to. At the same time I think it may be apropos to start talking more about values and patience, both at home and in schools, and how we can learn to be less demanding and entitled and stay awake to the imbalances in the world that are magnified right now. Like you said, it's not all about us, the single person, but it's about our communities and the world at large, especially those who are truly suffering.

  7. Ugh - Trump can never teach anyone to be a better person. That’s like saying let the devil lead you to heaven! About the boys not giving pops the respect he deserves; sure they no longer have their school or their friends, but they are in YOUR house. In my humble opinion, they should make an effort to at least be pleasant.


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