Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fourth Down

I am alive. I actually just had to deal with a rumor at my high school that I was dead. Finally, I've overcome whatever I had (though it left me with a hematoma in my right eye, so it looks like I was stabbed in that eye), and I feel better.
Today was the Fourth of July, or Independence Day for those of your who need titles. So why didn't I feel like celebrating? Why didn't I care? It's true I'm not the most patriotic person, but I really couldn't have cared less.
Both my wife and I were off work, and my son's daycare was closed, so the three of us spent the day together, which was nice...except for dealing with drunk boaters at the lake near our house.
You see, there's a small beach and playground near where I live, and as it was a nice day, we figured we'd take Little Leab out and let him frolic a little. Maybe he could cool off with a nice swim.
The little lake (a part of Twin Lake) was packed. Families, boats, and people galore were almost on top of each other. Now, I didn't have a swimsuit on, but my wife did, so she took Poozer into the water.
He hated it. Flat out screaming hated it. He was clutching on to his mother for dear life. When she sat with him in the water, he was fine, but when he stood on his own...forget it.
Of course it didn't help that there was a group of college and high school kids creating huge waves using a boat. They would point and laugh as kids or adults fell. Then they came in close and started yelling at people to get out of their way and their sight. My wife and I were not targets, though one wave did almost knock her over. Still, it angered me to watch these kids act as though they had some sort of privilege they really didn't.
The Fourth didn't get much better from there.
In the end, the only really enjoyable part was watching the Boston Pops fireworks special with my wife. Why? Well, outside of the fact that we didn't have to go anywhere (raising a kid is tiring...and he couldn't go out, he needed to sleep after his big day), there was a moment when the cameras cut from the fireworks to the crowd, and the old couple who were dancing moved away and instead the home audience got to watch to kids making out and getting ready to round second and head to third. You could hear the director thinking, "Wow...this is awesome...and there are kids watching. Shit! There goes my job...change the camera."
Still, while I am proud of the 231 years of this country, I am mortified with where we are now. I think that's why I'm not super celebratory on this day.
Just look at the news right now. Here are some fascinating items:
1. An American is celebrated at Coney Island because he can stuff more hot dogs down his gullet than a Japanese man. Yes, Kobayashi was able to win the title six years in a row, and I'm not going to go into a rant about how eating is not a sport, but this is ridiculous. ESPN carried the whole event and even interviewed the people participating.
ESPN Schmuck: "So...when was the last time you ate?"
Random Participant: "I had a hot dog and some water for breakfast. Got to have the stomach limber."
Seriously? We celebrate this? We cheer for the fact that an American (a blue collar construction worker no less) won the event. We marvel at the footage of the former champion having to eat his own vomit to stay in the competition. Let me say that again: He had to EAT his own VOMIT to stay in the running for the title, and the news & sports stations showed it over and over again...even in slow-mo. So, we have all of this literature and media out there telling us that obesity is a major problem in this country...and yet we celebrate this "competitive eating." Never mind that another problem occurs after the contest is over. Many of the contestants have admitted to not keeping the food down. Essentially they binge and purge. Great, they're sorority girls.
Still congratulations, America, you have an eating champion.
The other story of the day that just sucked out the love was the woman in Kansas who was stabbed and received no help. Beyond that, she was passed over by five people, including one person with a cell phone who just took her picture and moved on to finish shopping. What?! Seriously? Have we become so self-absorbed in our lives that we now don't care or notice when a person is seriously hurt? What I'm more amazed at is the woman getting her picture taken on a cell phone while she was down. What is the rationale? What was the person thinking who took the photo?
Look, I could rail on and on about how we are losing ourselves as people. My wife, for example, noticed that people are excited about Sony's new online server called "Home" in which you can design an apartment (a home as it were) and invite people over to hang out. This is all online. "Why not do this in real life?" she asked naively. "Can't people come over to play?"
"You assume," I replied, "people have the ability to interact outside the game world."
Back to the point: we no longer care about anything outside our own little world. When was the last time you did a good deed where you weren't pushed into doing it? I don't mean calling a loved one before they call you. I mean donating cash to a battered women's shelter for the heck of it. I mean seeing your fellow man short of change and giving them the change they need.
I don't see this happening anytime soon, which depresses me. More people care about Paris Hilton and her jail time than all the problems we have as human beings. This is why I don't feel patriotic right now.
And no, this doesn't mean that I don't support the troops and all that b.s. This means that I'm frustrated with humanity (or the lack of it) I am seeing from people around me.
Then again what the hell do I know? I made some guy feel bad about himself for almost stepping on my son. I could be wrong.
Namaste...and happy Fourth of July.

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