I don’t want to believe that on the whole, people are stupid. As I get older and grumpier though I’m finding it more difficult to reconcile my liberalism and my faith in the eventual betterment of humanity with the evidence. We are a week and a half away from closing the book on a year that saw the merits of wealth and greed extolled over the virtues of altruism, self-sacrifice and the understanding that we are all in this together. We have seen science demonized, facts ignored and truthiness become the guiding principle of government – as Asimov feared, brazen ignorance treated at the same level as expertise. Being right is not enough. Loud, not love, conquers all. And the worst part is, we all know better, but we let the bad guys win anyway. Why? Are we just too lazy? Has humanity just collectively decided to not give a rat’s hind parts?
Dennis Miller, with whom I agree on absolutely nothing, had a great line on one of his specials back in the 90’s, the last time I remember when optimism ruled the day. He asked, “Why have we become so quick to exalt the banal, and so begrudging of the truly consequential?” Who’d have thought that fifteen years later, it would only get worse? The most famous family in the world right now is so not for their charitable work or their noble contributions to their fellow citizens, but because they are vapid, shallow and fundamentally useless seekers of celebrity. It would benefit us all if we paid greater attention to the tribulations of our own families (which, ironically, has no financial cost) than forking out cash and felling acres of forest to keep up with the talent-bereft Kardashians. And ridding ourselves of this scourge can be as simple as tuning them out and asking a friend to do the same. If countless videos of adorable cats can go viral, why not also a campaign to raise our collective intellect? As a start, I promise that this is the last time you will see that name on this blog. They will no longer take up rent-free space on Graham’s Crackers.
What else can we do to step up our game in 2012? Why not make this the year that we cease endorsing bullies or the use of bullying tactics in any form, be it in the high school halls, the pursuit of elected office or government itself? If repeated viewings of The Karate Kid have taught me anything, it’s that nobody really likes the Cobra-Kai douchebags or wants to see them win. Similarly, we should stop rewarding the political equivalents of Johnny and Sensei Kreese with our vote and consequently the right to mooch off the tax dollars that we entrust to them to ensure we are healthy, safe and free of fear. Let’s demand maturity, tolerance and intelligent debate from all parties and stop electing or otherwise supporting hormone-juiced frat boys who honed their diplomatic skills playing Call of Duty while high on Red Bull and vodka coolers. Our governments, like our schools, really can Get Better.
Other things to do in 2012 to enrich yourself and stem the tide of dumbing-down:
- Read books that do not have vampires in them, and at least one that is over 100 years old.
- See more live theatre and local musicians.
- Go for long walks amidst the trees.
- Instead of just posting what you’re doing on Facebook, ask your friends what they’re doing. Make plans to see them more often.
- Unfollow Charlie Sheen, Snooki and any other famous-for-being-train-wrecks on Twitter and encourage a friend to do the same.
- Try more local restaurants.
- Never use LOL or OMG again. Learn a few phrases in Latin to pepper your status updates with instead.
- Support your local conservation authorities by exploring your neighbourhood parks.
- Listen to music made by people who are not supermodel-attractive.
- Write something – a blog, a book, a haiku, it doesn’t matter which.
- Don’t vote for the guy who’s angry all the time. He has issues, and none of them involve making your life better.
- Do something friendly for a neighbour you barely know.
- Don’t buy Us Weekly, People or any other tabloid magazine devoted to celebrities. If you must, then plant one tree, bush or shrub for every issue you just can’t live without.
- Hug a puppy, kitten, bunny, lamb, pony or any suitable baby animal.
- Make your own list of suggestions like this and pass them on.
- Keep reading Graham’s Crackers! (Sorry.)
Start with the little things. You’ll be surprised how much you like them and how much you don’t miss the other noise. Maybe together we can start, very slowly, turning this behemoth called civilization away from the shoals of ignorance and back toward the heights of what it is within our capability as human beings to achieve, absent only the decision to realize that potential. I promise it’ll be worth it.
Best wishes for a happy holiday season.