The Soft Genocide

The Soft Genocide

The year was 2065. Bob Smith turned 90 years old and he stared out the window of his Manhattan apartment to the streets below. On the desk in front of him was a birthday cake, with a row of candles on it.

He was alone in the world…but still, he had reasons to be thankful. When he was a young man he had great parents, as well as two loving sisters. They all cared deeply for him. And he was blessed with excellent health; he rarely went to the doctor in 90 years. But still, even with all that luck, there was a nagging pain in his heart—something that bothered him.

“If I only had a family,” he whispered under his breath. “That’s my only regret…that I never had a wife and child!”

Bob thought back to his youth…when he was in his 20s and 30s. He was in his prime. It was a time when—like most men—he was trying to start a family. For Bob Smith, those years were between 2000 and 2020. It seemed like another lifetime. What happened? Why did he not start a family? His memories were fading in his old age, and he struggled to remember. But then the images came flooding back, one by one. Little thoughts, like pieces of a puzzle being connected.

He remembered back to when he was 20. He had a girlfriend and she became pregnant. Something inside of him, deep in the pit of his soul, told him to keep the child. But he had just watched a TV show on teenage pregnancy. He learned that pregnant women had a “right to choose” and that he—as the father of the child—had no decision in the matter. So when his girlfriend told him that she was getting an abortion, he just nodded—he believed that it was the right thing to do.

Then, there was that incident when he was 25. He was forced to take a Women’s Studies class at college. There he learned (from an obese teacher named Ms. Manley) that women did not need him. He also learned that men were guilty of countless crimes against women. He noted a rising hostility from the girls in the class, many of whom were now openly calling themselves feminists. He considered asking one of the girls in class out on a date, but he was too intimidated.

He moved to Colorado when he was 28. There was a growing movement to legalize marijuana, and Colorado was being applauded for leading the charge. He began smoking weed, hoping that it would help him with women. Instead, it had the reverse effect. He ended up staying home at night, eating pizza, and playing video games. One day he considered asking the neighbor down the hall, a pretty girl with sausage curls, if she’d like to go to the movies. Instead, he went to his apartment, smoked a joint, and masturbated to online pornography.

When he turned 30, he moved out to Santa Barbara, California. He worked near the campus of UCSB, and there were a lot of pretty girls in the area. He was excited about his prospects! However, shortly after he arrived, he was forced to take a Sexual Harassment class at his job. He learned that California had a new law entitled “No Means No.” Under the law, he could be convicted of rape if he didn’t prove—in writing—that a woman had agreed to have sex with him. Several times after that session, he considered approaching women. However, he was overcome with fear when he contemplated the risk. The idea of going to jail frightened him, so he decided that it was better to avoid women altogether.

By the time Bob Smith was 40, he had given up. There was still part of him that wanted a wife and child, but years of frustration had killed his confidence. He spent the next fifty years “checked out,” just going through the motions of life: driving in traffic to work, putting money in his 401k, watching the Super Bowl every year, and paying his taxes on time.

So now Bob was here, alone on his 90th birthday. A thought came into his mind and he paused.  He wondered what it would be like—sharing this moment with a wife that adored him…with children that idolized him.

“I’d tell them that I love them,” he said, with passion. “I’d give them everything I have!”

He felt a tear welling up in his eye, threatening to cascade itself downward. But the moment was interrupted by the sound of honking horns, and the cars that rushed by on the busy street below.

Bob Smith blew out the candles on his birthday cake. Then he rose from his chair, shuffled to his bed, and—like he done he so many times before—he laid his tired body down.

In Praise of John Ritter

In Praise of John Ritter

Sitcom actors are underrated. In the world of thespians, they are overlooked in favor of Broadway leads and the A-list stars of tinsel town.

Given that fact, it’s little wonder that John Ritter was an overlooked talent. He made his fame on Three’s Company, playing the bumbling Lothario Jack Tripper. But if you were like me, Ritter’s physical comedy was a shining light in your childhood. His antics always brought a smile to my face. Looking back, I realize that he was one of the great physical comedians of the modern era, in the tradition of Charlie Chaplin or Harpo Marx.

Some people have a natural repoire with the camera—Ritter was one of those stars. His bubbling personality came through the television, landing into the living rooms of countless Americans. The world was a better place because of him.

 

You Cannot Fight with People Who Stand on a Different Mental Basis

You Cannot Fight with People Who Stand on a Different Mental Basis

The excellent writer, Quintus Curtius, recommended a short story for his readers awhile back—“The Country of the Blind” by H.G. Wells. I finally had a chance to read it and I was not disappointed. The story is a classic.

It takes place in the Colombian Andes. A man falls off a cliff, landing into the bottom of a deep valley. There he meets a community of blind people. By the end of the story, the village elders give him an ultimatum—he must blind himself if he wants to coexist with them. The analogy of the story is awesome—every person must, on a certain level, become “blind” to live in a community: think of various relationships, types of work, social circles, etc.

wells_1

The reason for this ugly truth is stated by Nunez, the story’s main character:

“…you cannot even fight happily with creatures who stand upon a different mental basis to yourself.”

So true.

An old friend once told me, “You are who you are.” The phrase has been useful to me, since I find it to be true nine times out of ten. You can’t change a pacifist into a fighter. You can’t turn an alcoholic into a CEO. And you can’t give self-esteem to someone who doesn’t have it. It’s an unpopular idea, no doubt. We live in an era of self-esteem, of self-improvement, of 24/7 female empowerment. And there’s an industry designed to sell people the products that make them a “better you.” But how many people are really capable of change? Very few, I’m afraid…

Are you currently arguing with someone who continually falters? Are you trying to convert someone to a new way of thinking? If so, then you’re probably wasting your time.

There’s an irony to giving advice—the best way to lead is not by words, but by action. If you really want to help people, you’ll have to focus on yourself. Become a champ in your personal life, in your professional dealings. When people see you walking on a path of success, then they’ll come looking for you. And they’ll be taking notes.

If you continue to push your advice on others, to help those that perpetually stumble, I’m afraid you’ll end up like Nunez—a man trying to teach the blind to see.

The Importance of Irrelevant Hobbies

The Importance of Irrelevant Hobbies

The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell provides a wealth of great advice. One of my favorite quotes relates to an interest in trivial pursuits:

“One of the major sources of unhappiness, fatigue, and nervous strain is inability to be interested in anything that is not of practical importance in one’s life.”

In short, our happiness often depends on a love of the trivial. Can you find enjoyment in Brazilian beach volleyball? Burmese water puppetry? Greek independent cinema? Many people cannot because they can only focus on things of “practical importance”—such as home and work. This sounds good on the surface, but what happens when there is a disturbance at home or work? If your entire world revolves around these things, a disturbance in this area can send your life tumbling like a house of cards.

Most people have an interest in trivial pursuits as young people. They enjoy collecting baseball cards, playing video games, etc. But as time goes on, something happens—life. The brutal nature of existence wears them down, and they soon lose passion for the previous pursuits. They cut off their interests one by one. Slowly, they only have an interest in their work and their mate. Eventually, they don’t even have an interest in those things.

I want you to reaffirm those trivial things from your past…those hobbies that have long since died. They weren’t mindless trifles to be done away with when the “real world” came a calling. They were important fires, matches that lit the carefree part of your soul. They taught you that life was something carefree to be enjoyed—they taught you to whistle, skip, and grin. They taught you to be alive.

We need our irrelevant hobbies.

RIP to Mr. Fuji

RIP to Mr. Fuji

We recently lost another WWE legend, Mr. Fuji. For fans of the WWF in the 1980s, Mr. Fuji was the villain that we loved to hate—hurling his “Fuji Dust” into the eyes of the unsuspecting opponent.

This was, for many people, the heyday of professional wrestling: the era when people like Hulk Hogan and the Iron Sheik became household names. A few years later, professional wrestling became exposed as a work and the industry officially admitted that it was, at the end of the day, theatrics.

The WWE has lost a lot of classic performers in recent years: Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes, The Ultimate Warrior…and now Mr. Fuji. We are seeing the end of an era in many ways, the passing of a golden era in sports entertainment. For those people like myself, who grew up during this time, these characters will be forever etched in our memories. They were equivalent to the bag guys and the good guys we saw on the Hollywood screen. And as it now turns out, they were more fun to root for than the self-righteous stars of tinsel town

Now the professional wrestling has been exposed, we might never see a list of performers like this again. Sometimes, when we stop suspending our disbelief, life is just not as fun.

RIP to Mr. Fuji.