I had this science fiction vision once. It’s the farthest corner of the universe. Two humans find themselves in an alien jail. The jail is overflowing with multitudes of strange creatures, life forms and aliens. They all have differing numbers of eyes, noses, mouths and faces. Some are sticky to the touch.
Humans are extremely rare in that part of the galaxy. But, against all odds, somehow there are two of them in the very same jail. The jail is enormous, like eight times the size of the Death Star. That’s because it’s operated as a for-profit enterprise by some alien corporation. But that’s another story.
One day the two isolated humans happen to bump into each other.
In that moment, I imagine they’d find some thread of a shred of humanity and commonality that they would cling to like a life raft in that alien sea.
Naturally, though, at some point they’d eventually get around to learning about each other.
- I was born in Country X. I was born in Country Y. Prepare to die.
- I believe in a God named X. I believe in a God named Y. Prepare to die.
- I’m left-handed. I’m right-handed. Prepare to die.
- I am conservative. I am liberal. Prepare to die.
- I get jiggy with the opposite sex. I get jiggy with the same sex. Prepare to die.
I just uttered the phrase “prepare to die” five times in five lines. Do I win something?
My hypothesis is that, in a setting like that, the labels and context wouldn’t matter quite so much. Perhaps they might even come up with some sort of mutual aid agreement. “Sure, I hate your guts, but let’s get back to Earth first. I can always kill you and feast on your entrails later.”
You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’
–Edgar D. Mitchell. As the lunar module pilot of Apollo 14, he spent nine hours working on the lunar surface in the Fra Mauro Highlands region, making him the sixth person to walk on the Moon.
We go through our lives on the surface of this piece of rock, so sure of ourselves, never questioning our convictions, and it’s entirely possible that a little change in perspective could shake the whole thing up. Should we be so certain? Is that wise?
Life is hard. Life is short. I’m of the opinion that rather than going out of our way to strife on each other, wouldn’t the world be a better place if it was less divisive? If we somehow reached out more often with a helping hand? If we shared more rather than building our piles and quantifying, based on our own criteria, who was deserving and who was not? And what if — thinking hypothetically here — we were just a tad less quick to unsheath our tongues?
Didn’t everyone’s momma teach them homespun wisdom like, “If you have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all.”
Based on empirical evidence I think not.
“Not me, brother! I’ve got my rights. I have the right to free speech. I have the right to say what I think about you. Because united we stand and I think you suck.”
Far too often the right to free speech morphs into the right to be an asshole. Is that the way this is really supposed to work?
I believe this. Well, I believe that. This great country and land of freedom was always intended to be a this nation. You can take your that and get the hell out. That’s what the founders of this nation had in mind. That’s how they wanted it.
They wanted a country where every person was free and had the opportunity to pursue their own religious beliefs. Of course, that doesn’t include what you believe. “Get the hell out.” I’ve heard this phrase preached far too often from devout Americans.
It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical
You sure spend a lot of time thinking about vaginas and anuses, eh? You must be a great thinker, philosopher and teacher. Nothing weird about running around spouting your opinions about vaginas and anuses. Trust me on this. It doesn’t look odd in the slightest. In fact, I’d recommend you do it more often.
I like thought experiments just as much as the next guy. “It seems to me that — as a woman — I could find nothing less desirable than your hellishly fuzzy face and the perverse smell of your breath. Or listen to what comes out of that mouth. But that’s just me. I’m just thinking: Who the hell would ever want to kiss that? It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Do you have the right to believe what you want? Of course. This is America. You’re supposed to have that right. Do you have the right to say things like the quote above? The Constitution gives you the right. And that’s a good thing. Does your free exercise of that right make you look bad? Does it make you an ass? Yeah, pretty much. The Constitution decidedly does not require you to have to have any class.
When I leave my house and go out in the world, pretty much 99 out of every 100 people I meet offend me in some manner. Do I have the right to free speech, just like this other dude? Yep. Of course I do.
I could choose, for example, if I wanted, to run around and say things like this:
- Wow, you smell horrible.
- You’re doing a fantastic job of grooming your children to be future assholes.
- Only idiots go out in public wearing Crocs.
- Get thee hence to a dentist.
- I’d rather chew razorblades than hear your daughter play the cello.
- You are one of the ugliest people I’ve ever seen.
- Your wife sure is a shitty cook.
- I’d be ashamed to leave the house with that message on my t-shirt.
- You’re the meanest sack of shit I’ve ever seen.
- I fantasize about taking a tire iron to your face and turning off that stereo.
- I pity you that you are so damaged you get off on abusing minimum wage employees.
- You narcissist fuck.
- I’ve seen gene pools shallower than you.
- I bet that venti grande trendy cup of frappuccino with four shots would look really good up your vagina anus.
You know what, though? Somehow I resist the urge to tell every single person I meet what I really think of them. I have the mettle and strength of will to keep those opinions to myself. Even though I could choose to share thoughts like those (and many, many more) for some strange reason I don’t. Maybe it’s that basic principle my momma instilled in me.
And, unlike you, I don’t even claim to “love” everyone. I’m not the one who climbed atop a soapbox and shouted for the entire world to hear, “I’m a lover, not a hater.” Yet somehow I’m the nicer one. What a weird paradox, eh?
So, I guess, in a perverse way, I’m out fomenting less hate and ill will than you. It turns out that I’m the good guy. I guess I can live with that.