Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I was just wondering how we came to be so prickly. Have we always been so very sensitive? Or are we now just more bored? Perhaps, we have sanitized our lives to the point where we must seek out irritants in a drive towards balance. Just as we have worked so hard to eradicate danger in our lives (helmets and pads for kids who use those silly little wheelies sneakers? How is a child supposed to learn to get up if he cannot fall down?), we inflate the slightest offense into the catastrophic.

I don’t refer to those who invent offense to advance a political agenda. Those creatures crowd our televisions and radios and PCs, yearning to be heard amid the clamor of dissenting voices. They bark and coo insults at each other in a way that lets us know that they are really quite chummy in real life. They reveal themselves through their carefully slanted arguments. We know them by their extraordinary ability to focus lasers on the failings of their opponents, while displaying a peculiar blindness to their own. This election year has brought out the worst in those who are paid good money to point out every error, every slip, every misplaced word. Each blunder unearthed and attached to their opponent, they declare beyond reprehensible, while pouring out sand, dirt, boulders, trees, whole oceans to hide the transgressions of their chosen candidates.

No, I am talking about the man who snarls at the person who asks him to “Have a Nice Day!” because he doesn’t feel like having a nice day, and who are you to ask? I am talking about the one who reports an inspirational email to the HR department because – wow, I’m not even sure why (Doesn’t fit into his worldview? Doesn’t want to deal with that happy crap?). I’m talking about the woman who refuses to accept the apology of the driver who dented her fender. Why can’t we just accept an apology, accept that a mistake happened, and we were on the receiving end because … that’s life? Don’t say Merry Christmas and don’t say Happy Holidays either, because someone will be offended, somewhere, somehow. And, don’t tell the wrong woman that she looks nice (pig!).

So let’s say we call it an unfortunate defense mechanism. What what drives it, and why does it seem to have become epidemic? Are we so ashamed of our flaws that we must shine a klieg light upon others to console ourselves ? Does the age-old pursuit of power drive us to pummel others before they pummel us? Do we withhold forgiveness for fear of being labeled weak, or worse, irrelevant? And, why do we insist on perfection in others, when we know we have no chance of attaining it ourselves?

I say we should all make a pact to get over ourselves and give each other a break.

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