In Other Words. . .

A sanctuary for thinking people.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bleeding Hearts Are "In"

Non-profits are springing up like weeds. Or maybe they're just coming to light. . . Either way, the U.S. of A. seems to be on a mission to make the world a better place, or is that just the pretty slogan we like to wear across our t-shirts?

The environmental movement got things going several years ago. Those groups alone have been quick to place the environment above the importance of human beings, by the way. Many of my peers, if not all of my peers, have latched onto this movement with a death grip as well as being huge supporters of homosexuals.

By no means am I putting down either of these causes. The Earth should obviously be protected, but I don't believe the state of things is as terrible as some people say. We should also not discriminate against gays, but redefining marriage is a rather drastic undertaking. My point is that young people need to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves. Look at the 60s and the Vietnam War. Whether you were against the war or supporting it, no one really knew what was going on. Has anything changed since then? I see t-shirts for Darfur, for suicide prevention, for homosexual awareness, and for the planet, but many times the shirt is the most that that person is willing to do for the cause. Perhaps they simply don't know how to help.

At any rate, I fear that our obsession with doing good is just an extension of our long-lived goal: making ourselves feel better. Kids are flocking to a cause because everyone else is. Celebrities are doing plugs for charities, social media sites make it easy to show others how wonderful you are by "liking" a non-profit, and beloved characters in movies and on television are often the non-conformist weirdo.

In simple terms, being weird is hip. Not everyone is taking the bait. After all, someone has to represent the jocks and cheerleaders, but everyone else wants in on the trend. The effect is a bunch of empty suits waiting to be recognized for their non-existent efforts to put an end to [human trafficking/discrimination/pollution/eating disorders/low self-esteem/ignorance].

This isn't a criticism as much as it is a call to arms. If you're gonna stand for something, stand up and be ready to fight to the death for it if need be! Forget how great you look in Project RED shoes and take 5 minutes to find out if there is a way to volunteer. This isn't a parade for displaying your knowledge of the downfalls of society. Earn your colors.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

To: Us Kids--The Doldrums

As a kid, I could never understand why adults hated winter so much. I would have done anything to secure a 4-5 inch blanket of powder to be used for sledding, forts, fights, etc. Now I'm just excited for spring. Thunderstorms, fresh air, and new growth are infinitely more appealing than this Winter Wonderland. Why?

If you have never read The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, go buy it now (or, to be fair, you can also rent it from your local library). In this witty children's book, the Doldrums are a physical place, named after the general feeling of boredom and apathy. One arrives there by not thinking and leaves by doing the opposite. The inhabitants of the Doldrums lie around all day not doing anything in a style reminiscent of an 80's bike gang.

I am making this obscure reference because the Doldrums doesn't really exist for kids, but the rest of the human race knows it well. Kids get bored all the time, but since their goal is to have fun, boredom can disappear as quickly as it came. To them, something as simple as snow is a reason to rejoice. If it melts, no problem! Now they can play football, and baseball, and tag, and draw on the sidewalk. To adults, snow triggers only practical repercussions: the roads will be bad, the windshield will ice over, the driveway will need to be shoveled. Also, this time of year in general seems to stretch life out before our eyes in a single thread. Everything that is happening, has happened, or will happen, is clear, and not a bit seems interesting. This mundane state of existence threatens to last forever.

For the last two weeks, I have been sitting solidly in the Doldrums. Much of my time has been spent lying in bed, thinking about all the things that need to be done. Very few things give me the motivation to get up, one of which is hating not having anything to do. Part of the problem is the time of year. The dreadful winter weather is coupled by the concept that summer is out of reach. There are no major holidays for quite some time. Simply, there is no light at the end of the tunnel, or so it seems. Days and entire weeks blend together because nothing happens to make one stand out from another. One struggles through 5 work days, if not more, to reach the almighty weekend which ends up flying by in the blink of an eye. The cycle repeats ad nauseum.

I am mentioning all these depressing realizations in order to combat this growing mental sickness. Take heart, all you children of the Information Age! There will soon be (brief) salvation from this stretch of boredom and crippling monotony. It will arrive with the return of the sun and preside over the resurrection of all things green. Time, in its abundance, will be wasted without care. Worries will be distant annoyances that can be put off until tomorrow. We will wonder how we ever forgot the art of relaxation. And the breeze! The breeze will knife through the branches, creating that beautiful white noise of nature that we have been craving since the last leaf fell. We will take for granted the golden sunlight of the twilight hours and the pavement left warm from a day of heavenly light. And when the air goes cold again, the memories of these days will serve our warmth better than a thousand wood fires.