I was recently chastised for not "caring". The action that prompted this uninvited evaluation of my character (and its apparent flaws) was my remote-flipping away, in rapid sequence, a documentary on right-to-lifers, a screeching televangelist, a gaspingly overwrought reporter enthralled with some "groundbreaking" trial, footage of some demented loon flinging paint at a fashion model, and a scolding old woman berating the general public for not taking feng shui seriously enough.
I didn't see it as unrealistic. I saw it as a distinct and proper move to save my television screen from having my shoe flung through it.
I'm proud to say I'm as human as the next person, with a healthy temper and the required level of skepticism to get through the day without buying stock in a pyramid scheme. I do not donate to charities I can't track the validity of, and I don't pass along emails of the latest urban legendary disaster. But the media, be it paper, televised, or cybernetic seems determined on testing my limits. I have chosen, like the mighty ostrich, to ignore those ethical SATs.
I know the world is full of people whose entire raison d' etre is to Save The World From Itself. I can only shudder to think of the condition of their kitchens, if they return library books on time, if they obey the jaywalking laws. If their behaviour in the public eye is any indication, they live in a universe of tunnel-visioned good intentions, and heaven help the folk who get in their way.
Me, I just want to find a parking meter with time still on it. I want to get my laundry done in time for work the next day. I want to find a reasonably priced low-fat mayonnaise. I don't have enough time to shop for decent car insurance, let alone to save the whales.
And because I have to narrow my sphere of influence, being a person with at least a marginal soul, I have to feel guilty for time not spent Bettering The Planet. I'm happy if my niece doesn't flunk gym, you think the rainforest can hold a candle to that worry? But because I am made to constantly feel guilty by every Tom, Dick, and PETA that comes down the pike, that guilt eventually turns sour and rancid and becomes resentment, which in turn grows a thick fur of moldy anger, and so when some other More Mouth Than Sense Yabbo gets on the tube or in my ear or pushes a clipboard in front of my face, I have to rein in that feeling. Otherwise, I'll be worrying about clean socks and report cards from a cell, facing assault charges.
Because I'm human, not a baby buggy, therefore not meant for pushing.
This doesn't mean I don't care. I do, I do, I cry when I think of little baby seals being clubbed and I am outraged at the latest statistics on thirdworld childlabor sweatshops, and don't even get me started on the ozone layer. But then I miss my bus, and break a heel running for the next one, and get slowed down by some nutcase wanting me to sign a petition to stop testing cancer treatments on plankton... there aren't enough cuss words to cover it when it happens.
So all you people who think you can save the world, be you sincere saviors or sillyass shouters, go right ahead. Just remember, though, while you make your noisy way through life, that some of us are trying to get some sleep, and can get mighty cranky when you suggest our weariness is our own damn fault. After all, there are a lot more of us than there are of you.
And someday, we'll be rested up, and ready for a vacation, so don't go spending all our frequent flier miles on some guilt trip. Real life has a way of minimizing the big picture. It's a cold hard fact, but true nevertheless. I'm going to leave the campaigning and complaining to the little college kids who have the time and (daddy's) money to spend on it. Me, I'll be happy if I find a dentist on my insurance plan and the cat doesn't have worms.
Life's too short.
(previously posted on Blogspot)