Tag Archives: self esteem

Act Like You Know

2 Mar

Americans’ right to convene and protest is one of the more interesting clauses guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The idea seems counter intuitive to running a successful enterprise. Imagine you worked for a company which allowed insubordination and encouraged disagreements, that company would probably cease to exist in short order. And yet the United States of America is founded on the principle that protesting and free speech insures an active and cognizant populace, and for some weird reason our forefathers deemed an informed citizenry to be a dutiful one, despite all historical evidence to the contrary.

Today, we have people who consider themselves “professional activists.” I have met some of these people. It’s impossible for me to stifle a chuckle at the idea of a “professional” activist, considering they don’t earn any money protesting, but I suppose it’s their ability to think outside the box of normal, accepted definition that makes them revolutionaries and me a brainwashed plebe. In any case, a professional activist is someone who makes it their business to attend and foment protests. The protests could be about anything, really, but they will usually conform to an activist's general political bent. Meaning you'll probably see the same professional activists at an anti-war rally as you would at a gun control rally.

It makes me think of the lines from Rebel Without a Cause: “‘What are you rebelling against?’ ‘What do you got?'” The point of a protest, I believe, is that it should shake things up a little, put average people on alert and the oppressors on notice with swollen ranks of concerned citizens. A protest should not, I think, include some shirtless dude impressing teenage chicks with Devil Sticks and some girl in multicolored dreadlocks screaming inaudibly into a megaphone. The statement being made here is, “what we think doesn’t matter because we’re completely unemployable.” Professional activism has turned protesting into a commonplace thing, a meet-and-greet where people can clap each other on their tattooed backs and assert how much they’re changing the status quo, while mainstream society stays totally unaware of their existence.

There’s a game we play every four years here in America, it’s called the National Conventions. It all begins when either of our two relevant political parties announces which city they intend to hold their bacchanalian bash, where they’ll determine who will represent their platform in the campaign for President. Immediately, both the police of that city and professional activists nationwide begin to mobilize: the former to allocate more funds in order to hire more cops and buy more riot gear, and the latter plan to show up and cheese off the pigs with slogans and armpit funk. Once the event arrives, the cops allow the protesters some time to rant and rave, but when the Port-O-Potties start overflowing, police line up with their see-through shields and batons and push the crowd away. The protesters act indignant at their treatment (though many will be glad to have been arrested, making their professional status official), the police have justified their budgetary needs, everything goes on as normal. We get to do it all again at the other party’s national convention, then everyone has to wait for four years for the fun to start all over again.

And that’s the state of a lot of protesting, in my mind. A lot of self-serving, unwashed weirdos who want the whole world to know how angry they are. More of a tantrum, really. I don’t think this is what the framers of the Constitution had in mind, that people would protest anything and everything just because they could. These endless mini-protests, retarded mid-day marches by bored theater troupes and vitriol because the progressive bill passed by Congress just wasn’t progressive enough, they undermine the entire process. If you catch yourself attending more than two protest rallies per year that are about wildly different subjects, then you should probably evaluate your effectiveness. Some of that time protesting life’s unfairness could be spent, you know, working at a fucking job. I suspect that the definitions of both “fairness” and “professional” will change after such an experience.


25 Feb

Wear something you’ve never worn. Eat something you’ve never eaten. See things you’ve never seen. Live. Grab life by the testicles and throttle mercilessly until your hands are gloriously sticky with matted, bloody pubic hair.

Pet a strange dog. Strangely. Call your mother. When she answers, say “I dialed a bad number,” and hang up. Water your plants with Kool-Aid. Explain the Federal Reserve Bank to a seven year-old. Perform an ancient pagan ritual using only vegetables.

Live. Write an open letter to every person you’ve ever slept with, thanking them for their time. Make three copies of this letter. Burn the original in coffee can. Send one copy to the Governor of Colorado. Staple another copy to the bulletin board at your local laundromat. Eat the third copy.

Arrange every pair of shoes you’ve ever owned in your mind by size and color. Kill a spider walking under a ladder by smashing a mirror on it. Start your own cult that revolves around the photogenic properties of Velveeta cheese. Help a handicapped person across the street against their will. Cuff your pants so that the cuff is on the inside of the pant leg, as if you were going to hem them. But for the love of Mike, don’t you dare hem them.

Lie to your lover about what was your favorite breakfast cereal when you were young. Catch a fish, throw it back, and then spend the rest of your life trying to catch the exact same fish again. Demand that a store clerk do fifty push ups for an unnamed transgression. If they balk, buy the most expensive item in the store and destroy it before their eyes. If they do the push ups, then shake their hand firmly and yodel. Softly at first, then louder and louder until the people nearest you are crying.

But above all, I entice you to live, to drink deep from the bathtub of life and stop worrying about picking the scabs from in between your teeth. You only get one go-round on this Merry Go Round, so go ’round! Live, laugh, and most importantly, languish.

No Deposit, No Return

23 Feb

I believe everyone seeks redemption to some extent. Pursuant to my essay from yesterday, we’ve all got regrets; acknowledging and learning from our mistakes is healthy. Sometimes we get the opportunity to right our wrongs and make good on our failed promises; most often, we do not get the chance. It’s this pursuit of redemption, I think, that is the cause of much human anxiety and stress.

There’s a multi-billion dollar industry attached to redeeming one’s self. Whether we wish to undo our laziness through crash dieting or affect our demeanor with daily affirmations and mantras, we all want to change things about ourselves. Altering the physical self, or at least attempting to alter it, seems to be the most prevalent. The subject of dieting, exercising, and cosmetic surgery is worthy of an essay all its own, but today I want to discuss the redemption we seek for our perceived transgressions against other people.

I try to treat everyone fairly and equitably, my actions bear this out for the most part. However, upon reflection, I don’t recall the times I’ve done someone else a good turn, but the times I have hurt others. The kid I needlessly picked on in high school. The gut-wrenching sob of a woman I broke up with. These are the moments for which I wish I could be forgiven. To apologize now would be derogatory, doubtless many of the people involved don’t recall me as well as I recall them. Still, I wish I could make amends.

My problem, which I think is common, is that I have sought redemption in other people. Not by unburdening myself, but by tailoring my relationships with them to undo the bad deeds I think I’ve done. “This time will be different, this time I will do the right thing.” The Right Thing usually involves suppressing part of myself or pretending to be something I’m not–perhaps attempting to be a person that I aspire to be. The problem with looking for redemption in another person is twofold: one, no person can forgive someone for the mistakes that only he perceives, and two, in forgoing the present to remedy the past, another interpersonal relationship is screwed up as the other person interacts with a misconception, a phantom of what might have been rather than what actually is.

I am speaking for myself, for my own tendencies, but I don’t think I’m alone. And if I’m not alone, if people reading this have made similar missteps, then what we’ve got is a cyclical do-sa-do of people fooling themselves and one another ad infinitum. I’ve sought redemption in other people, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to need that. I don’t want to mortgage my future because I can’t let go of the past. I apologize to anyone I’ve hurt in my life. But I can’t carry that spectral guilt anymore.

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