"If it's not fun, why do it?"

New Fruit

We just celebrated the beginning of the new Jewish year, 5778, Rosh Hashanah, literally “head of the year.” Jews celebrate not with frivolity and booze, but with contemplation and prayer. We are entering the period before the Day of Judgement, Yom Kippur. We want to think about what we’ve accomplished, how we treated others, our relationships with people and G-d.

New Fruits for the New Year. (c) JustHavingFun

New Fruits for the New Year. (c) JustHavingFun

Many include a “new” fruit as part of their new year celebration. This beautiful custom entails eating a fruit that one has not eaten in a while or one that has not been encountered before. After making a blessing on the fruit, there is a blessing thanking G-d for bringing us to this season. Then the fruit is eaten.

Our local kosher supermarket, Seven Mile Market, stocked numerous “exotic” options to choose from: lychees, fresh figs on the stem, golden berries, jackfruit, and prickly pear to name a few. This year I bought lychees. (I chickened out from buying a slice of jackfruit.) I can’t remember if I ever ate fresh ones before! It was a delightful experience.

New beginnings are the theme of this season, returning our thoughts to our core values and making use of the ability to turn ourselves away from directions we may have taken that stray from the true path. I have the opportunity to make amends, to look inside and see where I’ve erred. G-d allows me to start over again, freshly invigorated and reoriented if I’ve gone astray.

I feel doubly blessed this new year having started a new position and new career after a long job search. It’s a new beginning in many ways, working for a non-profit organization that strengthens our community by helping neighbors acquire and maintain housing… among other benefits. It’s a chance for me to give back in Gratitude for the many kindnesses bestowed on me.

I’m sending all wishes for a good, healthy new year in 5778.

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Time Sense

I have been waiting too long. They said they’d be here between 11 and 11:30 am and it’s after 12:30 pm. They’re not here. It’s a 2½ hour drive to our destination and I don’t want to encounter traffic or come back too late. I know these people run late and thought I accounted for that when I asked them to pick me up before noon. They run on a different time sense, however.

I distracted myself by uploading photos of these cute baby hats I’ve been making for charity to my Ravelry account. I searched for a book I misplaced. I watched 2 episodes of 30 Rock. I took out the trash. I watered the outdoor planter. I drank some water.

I finally called the more responsible person of the group I was waiting for and said I could not go with them. She said to me, “I can’t go with just the others.” I knew what she meant, capitulated and said OK, I’d go. So here I’m waiting still.

Image: Late by Evan Sharboneau (via Flickr, CC BY-ND)

-/-/-/-/-

They came not much after I wrote the above paragraphs and we were finally on our way. I drove; the trip was uneventful. We avoided three fights in the car by me keeping my mouth shut. We arrived at our destination, did our thing, then headed back. I hate driving west around sunset. We stopped so they could eat. I ate my bag of lettuce in the car, tipped the seat back, and rested my eyes while they dined—the restaurant was not kosher so I came prepared. By the time they finished their dinner the sun had set and night fell. I drove the unfamiliar back roads homeward rather than taking the highway. We played a quiz game someone found on Facebook and laughed at the answers everyone provided.

-/-/-/-/-

I like being on time. On time to me means arriving before, or at the time I agreed to be somewhere. Depending upon community mores, this could be 10 or 20 minutes later than the published time, but it requires a sense of what time means to that specific group. For instance, in my crowd, a New York wedding called for 8:00 pm may not start until 9:30 pm, but a Pittsburgh wedding will start no later than 8:20 pm. It’s something “everybody knows.” There’s the story of the New Yorkers who went to Pittsburgh for a wedding and showed up at NYC time… and missed the ceremony. They just didn’t understand Pittsburgh time.

I’m normally not punctilious to a fault, but compared to these people I was with today, I am an imperious arbiter, running the trains with an iron fist. My more rigid time sense imposes on their free-form, loose and flowing time sense. And therein lies the problem: they will never see my way, and I will never see theirs. This is a no-compromise zone.

So usually I compromise and tell these people to meet me at a time one hour earlier than necessary so that when they arrive “tardy,” it will be the real time I want to meet at. Has my method has been found out? How much longer can I perpetuate this charade?

It’s not that I’m impatient. To the contrary, usually it’s exactly the opposite. I am very “chill,” waiting in line, passing time, being agreeable. I don’t rush, but plan ahead to avoid needing to rush. This talent has grown over the last decade. I got tired of being late, arriving on the brink, thinking of excuses. I changed myself and got discipline. I feel proud of this achievement and it has saved me much aggravations.

Certain situations—and people—push my buttons, though. Repeatedly. This has been going on for a long time. It’s them, not me. I feel I can’t avoid them and their warped molasses sense of time. For now, at least.

Some day I will simply refuse to do anything with that crowd. Or go without me, I’ll tell them. Until then, I will need to breathe deeply, take a few steps away from the cliff, and realize that some old dogs cannot learn new tricks… or how to read a clock.

 

Possibilities

Today I’m focusing on what is possible. We control an amazing force—the potential to do something! In physics, an object’s potential energy relates to its proximity to other objects. How will it act? What will it be capable of doing? What factors act upon it?

Possible Sunflower

Possible Sunflower. © JustHavingFun

As we age, we find ourselves conveyed into increasingly narrow channels. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. We become specialized. Certain decisions will collapse other options. If you turn right, you obviate the choice of turning left. If you choose fish for dinner, you will not have eaten beef. And so on.

Here’s a career choice example. You start school as a blank sheet of paper. Then you take a full slate of classes—biology, art, sociology, and computers—and one will pique your interest more than the others. In college a course in developmental biology seems fascinating. You end up working for a professor who studies chick embryo neural tube development mutations, which leads to your Ph.D. research in genetic defects that cause spina bifida. You didn’t start out to become a research scientist. You simply liked biology class and decided to pursue that area of study. At some point, access to time and resources for delving deeper into art history, organizational hierarchies, or computer natural language development, say, becomes less available. Few people have the wherewithal to pursue a second field with the same verve as their first. Or, they wait until later in life and take it on as a second career—or not at all.

But the potential still exists. Possibilities don’t vanish completely as long as intellectual curiosity propels us forward.

Every choice we make hones us and refines us in ways we can’t imagine. That doesn’t have to make us narrow people. The rhythm by which we live is not a steady, monotonous drumbeat. The rhymes we repeat to ourselves don’t all end with the same syllable. The songs we sing have more than one stanza.

Possibility opens us to different ways of looking at things: a ball of yarn becomes a sweater, a calendar photo becomes a vacation, an appeal for charity becomes a passion. Our personal potential becomes expressed because of the choices we’ve made, the roads we travel down. But the other roads still exist.

Stem cells are plenipotent; they have the capability of becoming any type of cell in the body when they mature. So, too, are humans. We are born plenipotent, able to become any type of person and fit any career, following manifold interests. The beauty of humankind though, is that once we do fit ourselves to some mold, we can branch out. We can explore our possibilities. We can expand our world to include aspects outside of our immediate circle of knowledge. We can let other aspects into our consciousness, work on them, enjoy their possibilities.

The sunflower has no choice but being a sunflower. Its fate is predetermined and set. We, however, can enjoy the variety of knowledge, reflect upon the various possibilities that the world presents us. Just because we research spina bifida doesn’t mean we’re excluded from writing songs. Our rhymes are not squelched; rather, they are enhanced by the bits and pieces that total the world of possibilities.

For today, it is possible for me to break out of my mold, to incorporate various possibilities into my life song.

 

 

Knitting Pride

Are you proud of your handwork?

I recently shared this essay on a Ravelry forum. I got some insights on how I tick. Pride, enjoyment, accomplishment, completion. Are these interchangeable?

Substitute your hobby, craft, or avocation with my word “knitting.” I will share later some of the responses and reactions to what I wrote. Meanwhile I just started purple baby hat #6.

* / * / * / *

Am I proud of my knitting/crocheting?

I finished a baby blanket/throw after starting it over 18 months ago just “for something to do” while waiting with Mom in the emergency room. I pieced it with some odd lots of unloved acrylic yarn left over after my sister died. I forgot about it for a while and recently completed it to get it out of the way.

Valentines Day Baby Blanket Massacre, © JustHavingFun

Valentines Day Baby Blanket Massacre, © JustHavingFun

I suffer from chronic depression and have a hard time starting things and following through. As a sign of trying to overcome this, I showed this item and a baby hat I just started to my therapist and she loved them! As an artist she complimented the color blocking. As a non-knitter, she marveled at the stitch work. She asked, “Are you proud?”

I didn’t feel proud. I just felt null. I mean:

  • I can knit–no biggie there.
  • I can follow a pattern or instructions how to make a stitch.
  • I can even improvise.
  • It was just some oddball yarn I didn’t love.
  • It wasn’t brain surgery.
  • I’m not keeping the thing for myself.

I haven’t made all that many projects that are complicated. Maybe that’s the factor that stimulates a bit more excitement/pride from me. Yeah, maybe I felt a bit proud when I finished my first socks, the first stranded pattern, or when I completed the mint-green vest that is too huge. They were more complex.

Purple baby hats #1 & #2. © JustHavingFun

But overall, I’m not too impressed with myself. These little baby hats are patterned on a basic stranded pattern, but I have no excitement about the yarn or the pattern. It just zips along quickly. People who see me knitting (doctor’s waiting room, waiting to pick up a prescription, etc.) ooh and aah, but I think that’s because they have never seen anyone knit, and I’m happy to describe what I’m doing.

So I asked my community on Ravelry to see if they have pride in their handwork… all of the time? Or do they just do it sometimes “for something to do”?

Purple baby hat #5, © JustHavingFun

I tend to see the imperfections but am trying to let that go because we humans are not perfect. I haven’t started a project with my beautiful Icelandic wool because I’m not sure my skills are good enough yet. Besides, I can’t decide on a pattern.

Proud? It’s something to aspire to.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Hospital Wait

I wish I had my knitting with me.

I’m at a local hospital Emergency Department. My blood sugar has been wonky and I’m out of medication. [While this could become a screed about the state of medical insurance in the United States, I will refrain from explaining how it happens that I cannot get my meds.] I need to see a doc.

Emergency Department

Emergency Department. © JustHavingFun

There are many service units here: Registration, Triage, Laboratory, Urgent care, Intermediate Care, Rapid Evaluation, etc. Monitors on the wall let you know what place you’re in. After my blood was drawn they estimated it would be 3 hours to see a doc. Well, they do need to analyze the samples….

I’m OK waiting. There’s wi-fi, and I have a phone charger so my weak battery problems won’t frustrate me in the absence of my knitting. I’m hungry, though, but they don’t want me to eat or drink. Writing is fine. So is listening to podcasts.

Waiting List

Waiting List. © JustHavingFun

Dang it! Why don’t l take my knitting with me everywhere, every time?

Fortunately I borrowed a phone charger so I don’t have to sit like a lump or watch a half-heard television show I have no interest in watching. Some people are doing nothing at all. How can people do that?

There’s an odd cross-section of humanity here. I am hot, but many patients sit wrapped in blankets. A two-year-old child runs into the Triage area and her father corrals her. She’s laughing now, but was shrieking a little while ago. Someone who looks like an older sister is braiding an African-American girl’s hair. The couple seated next to me pass a phone between them, playing a video game together.

Did I mention I potentially have a 3-hour wait?

I wish I had my knitting with me.

Postscript – Indeed it was a 3-hour wait, but there was also a 3-hour treatment & observation phase! Wouldn’t have been able to knit because an O2 sensor was attached to my index finger. Glad I found the Game Show Network and spent some time with Cash Cab, and Family Feud (oooh, love that Steve Harvey). “Survey says” … I’m tired and need to go to the pharmacy to get my prescription filled.

With all the noise and clatter of today’s world, the incessant advertisements and social pressures, the still small voice of the authentic self—our souls—can be easily drowned out. We are sensual beings, experiencing the world through our skins.

Red Maple. © JustHavingFun

Listening to birdsong can lift my heart if I allow myself to pause, and recognize the miracle that it is. Birdsong is a gift. How can it be? A creature the size of my fist has the power to fill the air with song! Birds have a syrinx, a special organ to produce that multi-note trilling. We don’t have them. Do we lack?

What about the cricket song symphony of a summer’s afternoon? How is it that stridulations of an insect’s limb or wing, multiplied by a thousand, can blanket the air with sound? If I stop what I’m doing, I realize they are singing. It’s only in my silence that I hear their songs.

What message do the lightning bugs encode in their evening travels? I’ve watched them shape the dark with Morse code-like flashes. Their travels define a unit of space, their paths as distinct as a fingerprint; their flashes stutter a secret pattern as they fly through the night. To think as a child I trapped them in jars, quieting their dialogues forever.

And flowers, oh the abundance of flowers! Colors, textures, scents, foliage. From early spring to the beginning of winter, these bursts of color elicit deep sensations.

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas. © JustHavingFun

When I desist from my busyness and resist the lure of my phone, screen, kitchen, and bed, I turn to the sky. The moon in her brilliance, the clouds in their majesty, the rustling of the wind in the trees gain my attention. My soul gets nourished by nature’s caress. My authentic self can breathe a bit deeper and savor the sensations.

Happiness doesn’t come from things. Rather, it’s events, experiences we share—or not. I relish simple pleasures like breathing deeply in fresh air, feeling heat prickles when I enter my car in summer,  the sound and feeling of snow crunching underfoot, the breeze ruffling the fine hair on my arms—things I notice when I’m not distracted.

I recall the scent of peonies and the fuzz on that juicy peach tickling my nose. The sounds of trains rattling down nearby tracks stitch through the night’s darkness. And the succulent sourness of a fresh-cut lemon puckers my lips. These pleasures have been described in ancient literature and we can still relate to them. They rely on nothing save our senses taking in the beauty of the world. They  speak to my soul, refreshing it, and bringing it back safe to this body for another day.

Simple pleasures? Yes.

Universal? Yes, oh yes!

Can’t Go Back Home

This odd sculpture on the side of an otherwise nondescript apartment building.

“Bacchus/Dionysus” Apartments, Regent Square. © Just Having Fun

Back home. All memories seem bright until you get there:

Pittsburgh, my home, isn’t home anymore. Buildings are shabbier, streets more narrow, stores smaller, pavements more broken up, lawns weedier, properties needier. Store facades lack pizzazz, fashions seem grayer, people walk bent over, and hairstyles belong to the 1980s. Indeed, mullets haven’t died out there, and jagoffs still crowd the Parkway.

I don’t live there anymore. Home livens my dreams, though. I spent so much of my life there; it formed subterranean parts of me. But now I live in another place, sipping another culture, another state of mind.

“Home” speaks my vernacular. Home wears the gown of happy memory. Home sidewalks remember my skinned knees. Home parks have water fountains where I slurped away my thirst. Home benches remember nights I sat there looking across the river at the shining city. Home playgrounds hold my childhood.

Duquesne Incline from Carson Street

Duquesne Incline from Carson Street. Image: Dan Buczynski, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Away: We’re away from the inevitable aging, concrete crumbling, roadways growing potholes. We forget the annoyances of overflowing sewers, flooding, and road closures. Traffic cones move from site to site, an ever present landscape feature, but we lose our way among the newly created maze—new to our minds at least. “Remember where that big pothole was that they didn’t fix for a couple’a years?” We dodged it every time, and now just ride over the smooth street, the pothole a trouble only in the past.

Local politics, local concerns, don’t interest me because I’m not a part of it anymore. The hallmarks of the community, saying “yinz” and wearing shirts emblazoned with Steelers or Pirates logos, color the culture. Familiar local landmarks take on an importance they never shone with when I lived there. Pointing to repurposed buildings we remember aloud, “That’s where Isaly’s used to be;” or looking toward South Side, “J&L used to cover that entire shore of the river, before the Cheesecake Factory.”

Taylor Allderdice High School, Aerial View, circa 1930-1945 approx.

Taylor Allderdice High School, Aerial View, circa 1930-1945 approx. Image: Boston Public Library collection, CC BY-NC/2.0

I can’t go back home. The people aren’t there anymore. The “kids” I hung out with are spread across the map. They’re getting ready for retirement and buying condos in Florida. My high school’s awe-inspiring facade hides behind a blocky addition; my university has new buildings across campus. Downtown features newer, brighter buildings. Even the subway stretches to new distances, under the Allegheny River to the North Side and the stadium.

This is not MY Home anymore, but it is an extension of it—another dimension, say. If I lived there still, I would not notice the changes in the ways I do now. I would be a part of the rerouted traffic, commuting to my job without comment, or grumbing about PennDOT like everyone else. Local problems would not seem so exotic or notable the hundredth time we encountered them.

I can’t go back home, but I can look at it again like a many-faceted jewel—preserved in a museum showcase, or worn proudly on my finger—and see the lights glinting from within.

 

Not Perfect

I’m attempting to knit a lacy shawl, my first really big lacework piece. I’m relieved because…

The Problem

Not Perfect

Not Perfect © Just Having Fun
(The green yarn simply holds a stitch)

Something’s not right. I can’t see it, but I can tell. It’s not symmetrical, I can’t see the pattern emerge. Nine rows into the piece, before I start the next section of the pattern, I have the certain recognition that I need to start all over. Again. What is this, the 20th time maybe? There are supposed to be a certain number of stitches on the needle at this point and I keep ending up with one less than what’s needed. Grrr!

Persistence and perfectionism, perfectionism and persistence: these two perverse sisters taunt me. On the one hand the project lacks the clear definition of stitches that I would expect to see. On the other hand I feel like I am learning something, mastering this thin, woolen yarn and these slippery circular needles. My drive for persistence reinforces my yearning for perfection. And on and on. But doing the same thing over and over, no matter how patient I am, does not get me the results I need. Something’s not right. 

I Could

I should do something different. I could get a different set of needles, ones less slick. Plastic or bamboo? Ugh, not pleasing. I could watch some tutorials on YouTube and try to get a handle on what I’m doing wrong. I could go to a LYS (local yarn shop) and ask a human being to observe me while knitting and dropping stitches. I could try the pattern with different yarn—a thicker one, maybe acrylic—to see if this lovely wool is confounding me. There are a lot of things I could do… but don’t. I should do something different.

What I Did

Baby Blanket In Progress

Baby Blanket In Progress © Just Having Fun

I’m relieved I didn’t torture myself any longer. I put the lacework away for several months. In the interim I picked up something easier, a baby blanket made with leftover acrylic yarn that I don’t want to use for anything else anyhow. Despite my eyeballs burning from the red red Red yarn, the rhythm soothes my jangling nerves and lets me be less perfect, less precise. This project doesn’t laugh at me in the face and make me knit the same mistakes over and over again.

Sometimes I just have to get over myself and stop trying to be so perfect all of the time. I enjoy the process of knitting more than having a finished item. So it’s OK to have a simple piece to work. This is just a modified basket stitch in some random colors I have in storage. The baby won’t mind, whoever he/she is. The repetition provides the relief; the soft clicking of the needles and the shuttle-like motion of my finger wrapping yarn around them provide a focused mindlessness. From here I can soar, race, crawl, or rest. I don’t have to be perfect.

I shouldn’t think it over too much. I may destroy the magic.

Cholom Ra*

I had a bad dream, a חלום רע — cholom ra.

Its total duration seemed to have been a week though in reality probably no more than an hour. It lingered longer, however, following me into the daytime, challenging my reality, and painting my blue sky gray.

Dreams, in Jewish tradition, oppose the modern theory that dreams have no inherent meaning on their own. Contemporary research posits that neurological structures in the brain become activated while we are asleep and assess, process, and encode the day’s activities somehow. In contrast, dreams were thought to confer the power of prophecy on the dreamer in bygone days. The Talmud states that “dreams are one-sixtieth of prophecy,” while averring that dreams contain nonsense, and interpretations are up to the interpreter.

Pharaoh’s Dream of Seven Cows” © Sue Bentley/FreeBibleImages.org, CC BY-SA 3.0

In the Torah we read of Joseph’s dreams in the house of Pharaoh and their interpretation. In the first dream, he described his brothers’ wheat sheaves bowing his own upright sheaf. Further, he dreamed the sun, moon, and eleven stars, representing his parents and brothers, bowing to him. The brothers pejoratively call him a dreamer and conspire to throw him in a pit, sell him to traveling Ishmaelites, and end with Joseph being sold to Potifar in Egypt. Joseph was imprisoned, and while there, interprets two dreams for which events passed as he said. Then the Pharaoh had the dream of the seven emaciated cows consuming the seven fat cows which none of the magicians in Egypt could explain. Pharaoh gave Joseph a chance, and his interpretation so pleased Pharaoh, that Joseph became the chief minister in Egypt. Events came to pass as Joseph foresaw (Genesis 37-41) and the Israelites flourished.

Likewise, the Book of Daniel relates Daniel’s parallel elevation in status after his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams.

Many other cultures have traditions of interpreting dreams. The Babylonians discuss dreams and perform dream rituals in The Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 2100 BC). Through ancient times, escalating with Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, to the modern Dream Interpretation Dictionary online, people want to know the meaning of these nocturnal visions.

Me, too.

Image: Laurence Horton via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I love to sleep, largely I suspect, because of my dreams. They defy Hollywood‘s brilliance. My dreams are in Technicolor. Sight, sound, smell, and texture surround me. Strangely, however, I see myself from the vantage point of an observer. I am the star of my own movie.  The dreams are bigger than life and often better than life. I can fly. I have power not experienced in the real. My dreams thrill and intrigue me. Sometimes, like on that night however, they are bad.

The morning of this bad dream, I awoke with the foreboding of terrible outcome. Someone dear to me would 1) lose her life, or 2) his fortune, or 3) their mutual respect and love. I’m not going to say which one it was, but you get the idea. I stood by watching myself in my dream, helpless to change an outcome. I didn’t stay asleep to see the actual thing happen; I awoke shaking, sweaty, desiring coffee.

Lucid Dream” by Wolf94114 , used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Although I’m not a lucid dreamer, I would like to become one: confronting bogeymen, kissing handsome princes, and filling my arms with treasures. Other times I would want to be a benevolent teacher, directing others in my dreams to learn from me, instructing them in life skills that avoid evil and promulgate good. I’ve wanted this ability since childhood but don’t know how to cultivate it. One more item for the bucket list.

Ritual prayers exist to avert ill effects from bad dreams, like the paragraphs said under our breaths during the Priestly Blessing (birkat Kohanim). But mostly, we  Jews have a tradition: to learn the true meaning of dreams, we must be on a very high spiritual level. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

May we all be blessed with only beautiful dreams, and banish the bad dreams forever.

 

Impressions

A potential employer has called me in for an interview. I really want this job. What will I wear? I have a business suit for this purpose, and worn with an understated top, modest jewelry and matching accessories, it is the appropriate uniform for the occasion. I will appear to be a responsible, sober, capable person who takes this job seriously. This is not the time to express my preference for a roomy sleep shirt and bare feet. I know how to make a good impression.

Tattooed guy on the A-train.

Tattooed guy on the A-train. © JustHavingFun

How we are exposed to things creates impressions. The frequency, the popularity, the acceptability seem to grow proportionately. I remember a time when a boy with an earring was a rarity, a rebellious type to be avoided. Now? I’ve seen guys with dangly earrings as well as holes as big as quarters in their lobes. And tattoos? I’d heard stories growing up about crusty, tattooed sailors. It wasn’t considered to be suitable for nice folks. Now they’re all the rage.

First impressions count—it’s not just a worn adage. The subtlety of impressions cannot be emphasized enough. They get worn into our brains, drip by drip, until an impression is formed. Like water on a rock, with time enough, a path can be carved. The Grand Canyon proves this theory.

Impressions are also formed by the media. What we consume as humor and entertainment become realities. Like mouthy, bratty, know-it-all kids. Remember the fantasy of Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show? I can’t imagine Opie being mouthy without consequences. Or Richie on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Nowadays children on sitcoms mouth off and are bratty, and that is considered normal. Not in my house, honey. If my kids had been as fresh as those on TV, they’d have had what to be upset about.

SNL Screenshot

Screenshot. © NBC

What happens when the media steps past a societal boundary, more than just a breach of good taste? Saturday Night Live last week ran a skit that I thought pushed the boundary too hard. Here’s what I sent to NBC as a comment on the show:

DESPICABLE. That’s the “World’s Most Evil Invention” skit from 5/20/17. Child molestation must NEVER be exploited for humor, never mind ironic use. Yes, the behavior is really, really evil, but it’s no laughing matter. When SNL uses child abuse for humorous purposes, it diminishes the horror of the act, the level of sickness it embodies. Child sexual abuse should be verboten, like rape, making fun of handicapped people, or even saying the “N-word.” Push the envelope, but use restraint.

There are certain things we should not joke about or hint at in humorous settings. I draw the line at child sexual abuse. I shudder to think that this evil act can be made as acceptable as tattoos. I don’t think I’m over-reacting. The more people are exposed to things, the more “normal” they seem and the less sensitive they become to those topics. I like to think that we are a society that wants to be good and do right. In order to do that, we need to make the right impression on ourselves. Think about that. How do we do that?

The media have a lot of power. As I’ve said before, whether you love him or revile him, Donald Trump is the President of the United States. Most of the photos I’ve seen of the President show a snarling, warped visage. The camera seems always trained on him mid-grimace. Perhaps if the media were to show him smiling, some of the rancor would diminish.

Likewise, if the media were to treat actions like rape, sexual abuse, sexual trafficking, child molestation, death by gunshot, and other acts of horror seriously and not gloss over them, perhaps there would be more attention paid to the plight of the victims.

Just saying. I’m really worked up about this topic and there is no room for humor about it. There are some things that cannot become commonplace or humorous.

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