Kids Today…

This morning, I saw a questionable post on a friend’s Facebook wall.  It was one of those cut and paste slacktivism statuses that condemn society for being a bunch of wusses because we tell people not to smoke when they’re pregnant, to wear seat belts, etc.

The closing sentence was something along the lines of ‘my parents didn’t stifle my freedom, and I turned out fine’.

What makes this line of thought sketchy (if not ridiculous) to me is that while this person might not have suffered from the irresponsibility of their parents, how do you boldly state that precaution is stupid to a parent who lost their child because of ignorant behavior?  Or a parent who has suffered the burden of raising a child with a preventable deformity? I perceive that post as reading ‘ha ha, I made it, so who cares if your child didn’t?’

Of course, parents are often the victims of irrational fears for their children, and go to ridiculous lengths to protect their children.  Yes, you can stifle a child with your fears and your love.  That’s part of parenting, right?  But to completely deny science and statistics because of inconvenience and restrictions seems morbidly dangerous to me.  And it reeks of ignorance.

For every child that is allowed (if not encouraged) to ride unprotected in the back of a pickup truck, how many had to be hurled from the truck bed before somebody said, “don’t do that”? In a scenario of risk versus reward, is it really that important to a child’s development that they be allowed to endanger their lives in such a reckless manner?

I think not.

I’m not a parent, but I’m certainly affected by the parenting of others.  After all, those children will someday run the world that I live in, not to mention the emotional investment I make each and every time I hear or read about a senseless death or tragedy, particularly with children, and absolutely with children who suffer because of the bad decisions their parents make.

It’s a fine line that separates the sensibly cautious from the outrageously protective, but there are data available to guide us in these decisions if we’re not too stubborn to seek it out.



Don Draper is Frightening

‘Mad Men’ is a fantastic television series, and if you’ve never seen it, you probably have no business reading this post (though you’re still invited to). The power of the show to me is the emotions it invokes.  The emotion that rises to the top is DISGUST.

It isn’t even a disgust that I can write off as fiction.

Equality is not something we can merely legislate, it’s a way of thinking. That way of thinking isn’t something that is fixed by pushing a button, but an accumulation of what we see and think on a daily basis.  A cumulative mix of our experiences and our ideals.

The obvious victims in ‘Mad Men’ are women. In the series, much as it was in the time period represented, women are merely objects to achieve a means, be it serving coffee, typing correspondence or boosting the male ego through sexual relations.  It’s abhorrent, and I like to think that we’ve come a long way in our country and in our world to treat women as humans. I do enjoy the comparison to where we are now as to where we were then.  It gives me hope.

But then I have conversations with women today, and see that men aren’t the only problem.  For example, I’ve had conversations where I will call out Don Draper’s callous behavior, and a woman will talk about how ‘hot’ he is.  Really?  Worse, I’ll hear, “I’d have sex with him”.

My logic is infuriated!  Having sex with Don Draper isn’t a statement on equality, it’s a ruse that encourages women to see him as he sees them.  And Don Draper is MUCH better at separating humanity from a tryst than they will ever be.  Thinking that you can outsex Don is like thinking that you can do a better job of biting chicken necks than a fox can. And this way of thinking is just as dangerous to women as not letting them vote.

The mindset does nothing more than sabotage equality based on human rights. You don’t have to be male to dehumanize another human being, women can do it too. And they shouldn’t. Because the more we see each other as a means to resolve our own insecurities, the farther we get from seeing each other as the beautiful, complex people that we really are.


Age is Just a Number

Age is just a number like gasoline is just a liquid.  I turned 50 this last year, and I’m suddenly aware of how resistant people are to growing old.  I’m no stranger to midlife crisis, I assure you, but sayings like ‘age is just a number’ or ‘you’re only as old as you feel’ are complete bullshit.  COMPLETE bullshit.

And the more people that say, much less believe, those things, the worse it is for the rest of the population that is transitioning to a new stage in our lives.  Yes, it is new. We should be excited about that.  People in my age group aren’t dead yet, and we still have lots to contribute.  In fact, we have things to contribute that you can’t buy on QVC.  Things like wisdom, experience, maturity, etc. Things that are much more valuable than fashion trends, taste in popular music or expiring lower back tattoos.

I’ve lived an amazing life, and continue to live in an amazing world. But, and this is a big but (Sir Mix-A-Lot references are not welcome here), my world is significantly different now. I could mourn the loss of my youth, my ability to mix socially with the youth of today, or even the choices in wardrobe that are inappropriate for me now, or I can step up, embrace my current social status, and offer to share my experiences – both good and bad – with people who are not only in my position, but with the knowledge hungry youth that are painfully searching for answers to questions that we’ve all had to ask ourselves on our life journeys.

I’m a firm believer that looking backwards is the wrong direction to be looking. I can already hear somebody saying that it’s never too late to change your life.  I agree with that to a certain extent, but at the same time, it can be too late to relive your youth.  No offense intended, but I don’t even want to be lost and stupid again.  I had a great time walking that path, but I know too much now to enjoy it again.  I’m not sad that I don’t wake up with hangovers anymore.  I’m not sad that I can recognize something that is too good to be true, and understand that it isn’t true. I’m not sad that I don’t perceive compromising my morals as some kind of fast track to popularity.

The reason that I’m not sad about those things is because I firmly embrace my position in life, and that I understand that my age isn’t just a number.  It isn’t a thing that I can ignore. It isn’t even a thing that I want to ignore. It’s something that I strive to celebrate.

I was at a party this year with a mix of older and younger people who are all involved in community theater.  For the first time in my recollection, I was relegated to the ‘old people’ table. Much like Mohammed, Jugdish, Sidney and Clayton from ‘Animal House’, there was no other place for me.  While the ‘kids’ were whooping it up in the living room, I was trapped with the older generations in the kitchen.  But you know, that was where the food was, and all I could see as a spectator watching the ‘in crowd’ was the inevitable disappointment and rejection that awaited me if I tried to crash THEIR party. The problem with being the old guy is that nobody tells you that you’ve transitioned from being the ‘cool’ dude who ‘gets it’ to the creepy old fart who doesn’t belong.

I have a little pride left in me, but that doesn’t mean I can keep chasing the chicks like I used to because I still feel like I’m 25.  Instead, I choose to accept my place and not suffer any more than I have to just by breathing. I have great memories.  I hope to make plenty more, but with a shred of dignity.