You’re Not the Boss of Me

Ah, but sometimes we are the bosses of you. 

There is not, nor has there ever been, complete liberty, even in democratic countries like the United States. 

Laws based on common sense, which are then exacted by the majority rule of our democratically elected representatives, govern us.  We might not agree with all of them but that’s the deal that we make to keep the society functioning. 

You might not always like each decision, but who gets 100% of what they want all the time except spoiled five-year olds?

… and we know how that worked out for Veruca

This has worked generally, though imperfectly, for almost 250 years in the U.S.  But for it to continue working there needs to be a baseline of accepted reality and logic based on science and empirical evidence.

When we disagree on what is real we’re Alice stuck in Wonderland.  We’re on a bad LSD trip with the Jefferson Airplane as White Rabbit plays in the background. (Note:  Ask your parents, or grandparents (!). Or better yet here)

I feel attacked.

And as the song and the book warn, WE are the only ones who can save us.  And the way we do it is through – guess what – information, learning, reasoning and logic.

When we can’t decide on what is logical, and conclude nothing is a fact and everything is subject to debate, trouble ensues.   

You can begin to wonder whether what you’re reading right now is a blog from an overly opinionated fellow or truly the rantings of a literal Chair; the cousin of that piece of furniture you sit on in your kitchen that has suddenly come to life and figured out a way to type words into your inboxes via your social media platform of choice.

Well, it COULD HAPPEN!

Readers… maybe we should talk

Yes, for some this IS a gray area and reality is that dubious. 

Imagine literally witnessing a savage crowd of people bloodily invade your place of business with battering rams, knives and military grade weapons one day and yet somehow decry days later, and in all seriousness, that this was a non-threatening group of peaceful protesters.

Up CAN be down and Down certainly, possibly and probably/actually IS Up.

k byeeee

Though we can take it a bit further.

You live in a magic kingdom where life is good, or at least tolerable.  But one day a swarm of invisible locusts come in and begin poisoning, killing and maiming your fellow citizens and, as a result, systematically destroy everything good, or at least tolerable, in life as you knew it.

But one day the kingdom’s sorcerers huddle and discover…all you have to do to save yourself from these deadly invisible locusts, ALL you have to do, is endure one teeny, tiny needle prick from the spindle of a spinning wheel available to EVERYONE in order to save yourself and EVERYONE in the kingdom.

And vanquish the invisible locusts 4EVER.

Bonus beauty sleep!

Yet — guess what?

At least 40% of your kingdom REFUSES to get pricked.  Not only that, they’d rather watch themselves and their children get maimed and/or DIE rather than shed a droplet of blood from the prick, or endure the subsequent scab that might form and then drop off a week later at the prick site.

Their reasons boil down to this.  You can’t tell them ANYTHING because one of the tenets of this kingdom is they are free to do precisely what they want, when they want. 

Even though this has never been true.

Awww you thought you were free, that’s cute

In fact, we all know this is not true, since in one of the small kingdom villages an edict was just this past week written that proclaims NO female of child-bearing age shall have a choice in deciding how, when or if they choose to become a mother once they’ve engaged in a sexual escapade.

It makes no difference if a male relative forced the escapade and themselves on that young female while they were in high school or junior high school.  And it is especially immaterial if the escapade was simply unplanned or happened in a way the female had not intended it.

Despite all the safe and effective options offered by the sorcerers who created the locust-neutering potion for them not to be a mother, NO VILLAGE FEMALE of ANY AGE gets to make THAT decision for themselves. Ever again!

That, and a lot more, is now dictated by their mostly MALE ELDERS.

So this…

Those mostly male elders so know best and are so bent on having their way that they have even provided a foolproof means of enforcement. 

Any villager suspicious of any young women bent on disobeying this new rule can report her and her enablers and in return will now receive a small pocketful of gold coins for turning them in.  That is if they can offer minimal proof of her or their intentions in the Town Square before a panel full of random (ahem) mostly male. elders.

And this? great.

With locusts running rampant in the village, gold is scarce and the majority of the villagers are preoccupied with surviving.  

To give them some credit, even illogical chumps the likes of those mostly male elders know how to seize an opportunity when they see it and make it appear golden.

Or as someone once wrote in another magic-thinking kingdom that was once governed by reality and logic for almost 250 years:

Even a broken clock can be right twice a day.

Unfortunately, that kingdom hasn’t existed as such for decades.  It devoured itself whole despite having access to every possible foodstuff in the universe.  That is because it preferred the taste of its fellow citizens’ blood and marrow to that of a simple hamburger or pizza slice at its once deliciously mundane and safe local food court.

Jefferson Airplane – “White Rabbit” (with clips from Alice in Wonderland)

Not a Happy Camper

I never thought I’d be inspired by a quote from a military guy.  I’m the least military that you can be.  Order me to do something and I’ll do the opposite.

This goes as far back as I can remember.   When my parents ordered me to go to the sleepaway camp they were about to register me for when I was 11 years old, I looked at them steely-eyed for a good long 10 seconds.  Then I told them I’d run away and come home every single day I was there no matter how many times they brought me back.  If they didn’t let me in, I’d find friends or relatives to stay with.  If they wouldn’t have me, I’d sleep on the streets.  And I would have had they not relented.

Does it look like I’m screwing around mom??

This was not merely because I was defiant.  In actuality, I was a bit of a wuss considering I came of age in the sixties and seventies.  I was scared to take drugs, never cut school or lied to my Mom AND didn’t figure out sex until I was out of my teenage years (Note: And, ahem, even beyond).

What I did have were good instincts.  This has helped me through my entire life when facing big decisions.  And when you’re 11 years old there is no bigger decision than sleepaway camp.

It’s all very dramatic

I knew that as an uncoordinated, sports-hating, mouthy, stubborn, sassy pants who was secretly attracted to boys but didn’t yet have a word for it, I would never survive what I even then considered the camps.  They might be right for some kids but for me – no way.  It wasn’t even on the table.  I knew the difference between right and wrong deep down in my soul and this was definitely WRONG.

Here’s what Gen. Marty Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tweeted out several days ago:

The art of decision-making. When making big decisions, block out the background noise, take stock in what you know, check your instincts, and then decide. It’s important to remember that just because something is loud and repetitious doesn’t mean it’s right… …more than any other feedback, in a world of intense scrutiny and super-charged emotion, how we make important choices tells us who we are and what we hold most important.

This deserves the Meryl seal of approval

This might seem a strange way to get everyone to VOTE but I don’t think so.  You are at the precipice faced by many 11 year olds.  Sleepaway camp or NO sleep away camp.

Of course I realize that not every kid is fortunate or unfortunate enough to have the option.  I also get that local charities raise money just so these kids can get away for a month or two in the summer and enjoy themselves.

Or be tortured.

I imagine my letters from camp would have been exactly like this (from the brilliant Lin Manuel Miranda)

The point is that in a perfect world, the one where EVERY KID has AN OPTION, there will be a significant number, likely more than you think, that would vote to reject the camps and instead choose the steamy city streets.

The world is composed of camp kids and CAMP(Y) kids, if you get the drift, and each one is entitled to some say in creating a life that reflects their reality.

When we’re 11 years old, we don’t always get this choice.  But once we turn 18, we ALWAYS get a VOTE.

ALWAYS.

That is, unless we CHOOSE not to.

Sure, we live in a messy, turbulent world, particularly at the moment, where the choices available are not always the best.

This is real. #tuneout #tunein

You can have what’s in the box or what’s behind the curtain and they both feel like booby prizes, especially since once you accept one you also have to pay taxes on it. #NoDeal.

But, well, you don’t really think I wanted to stay home with my mother when I was 11 years old in the heat of NYC, do you?  Still, it was way, way, wayyyyy better than being stuck up in the woods having to play baseball everyday.  Or sleep in a barracks without being able to listen to my beloved movie soundtrack of Mary Poppins.

Oh Chairy, you flatter me so

Not to mention, that summer I learned how to roller skate (Note: With a metal key), and made friends with a brother and sister who had just that summer moved into my neighborhood.

I even learned that contrary to the custom in my family, you don’t always call your adult friends’ mothers by their first names.  In fact, I will never forget the expression on the face of that brother and sister’s Mom when I casually addressed her as Pat and she turned to ME steely-eyed and said, Call me, MRS. Marshall.

I’ll just show myself out #SorryMrsMarshall

To this day I am very careful when addressing those older than myself to always err on the side of formality.   At least, at first.    And you’d be surprised how much it’s helped.  Whenever I dated anyone, their parents ALWAYS loved me.

No one is saying that there are not moments to abstain from action or refrain from even voicing your opinion.  But this is not one of them.

Some moments in your life it is best simply sit back and follow the lead of those older and more experienced than yourself.

self awareness is also key

Then there are other times, the ones where you are REQUIRED to speak up for own self-preservation.

Or risk being sent to a CAMP that is wrong for you.  One that goes against EVERYTHING you innately are.

Colonel Bogey March