I never imagined I’d feel this way so soon after a presidential election, but being politically moderate is rapidly becoming a depressing prospect. Seriously, when you don’t agree 100% with someone’s opinion (especially regarding politics) you tend to feel like the high school kid who has a booger hanging out of his/her nose, and everybody knows it except you.
A true friend will sacrifice a moment of your embarrassment to ensure your future dignity: “Dude. Dangler,” gesturing with a few swipes along their own nose to alert you. Sure, you may be subject to a gentle verbal jab later (“Uh-huh. Whatever, Booger Boy,”) but never in public. That’s what friends do. My job, as my closest friends will attest, is “peacekeeper.” I keep the peace. I’m the defuser of arguments, which is funny, considering I’m probably the most ill-tempered of all my friends.
I used to take a lot of pride in being the guy who listened to both sides of the argument. Politics, office grumblings, general venting between friends…it never mattered. I’ve always felt reassured by being the guy who finds middle ground between two parties. Being the voice of reason brings harmony to my own life and usually works out better for everyone else involved, too. But I don’t feel that way today. Maybe I’ve simply lost my effectiveness as a good listener. Maybe my ability to be like the Swiss was hindered by hearing Steve Carell say, “Does the cheese come out of the cow with the holes in it?” Or maybe you’ve all just gone bat-shit crazy.
I’m going to roll with “You’re bat-shit crazy,” because I really need the ego boost right now.
That’s a bottle of Irish whiskey, within arm’s reach of me as I write this. Lovely stuff, actually. Would you care for a wee-bit-o-trivia today? Check this out:
The word “Whiskey” is an Anglicized form of the ancient Gaelic phrase, “uisce beatha,” meaning “water of life.” Most Old World cultures have similarly named their “staple” liquor (i.e. from Russian, “Vodka”). And there, peeps, is your infotainment moment for the day.
But let’s not detract from the reason that that bottle has been opened.
Many of my friends will read this. Some, closer friends than others. Other people don’t know me from Adam. That’s fine. For sake of conversation, if you’re reading this, I’m considering you a friend. Hi, I’m Mike. My closest friends call me “Gags.” I have two awesome kids. I wish my New York Jets weren’t having such a shitty season. I really like bacon a lot. See? It’s official. We’re buds now. And I have a bottle of Jameson here. Slainte. *Clink*
Normally, opening of such a bottle is a festive occasion. Is today festive? Nope. I’ve opened it because of you. Yup. Hey, come on, don’t get all angry now! I’m being a true friend! True friends don’t bullshit each other, right? Right.
So in the interest of our friendship, I’m being straight up with you: I’ve opened the bottle because of you. You’ve driven me to drink. That’s right: I’ve opened the bottle because you are completely insane.
See?!? Isn’t this refreshing? No more awkwardness. No pregnant silences. No elephants and/or 800-pound gorillas in the room. It’s all out on the table now. You’ve lost your damned mind and I’m drinking because of it. Well, I feel better now, how about you? It’s like an intervention for you, only I’m drinking while it happens. Which is kind of cool, if you’re me. I’m the true friend, and I’m helping you deal with your dangling booger. Just accept this.
I wanted to call this a conversation, but it’s actually more of a monologue. I’m reflecting upon some of the things that have driven you completely insane, and me to drink. So I’ll write, you shut the fuck up and read. It’s for your own good. Tough love. Just accept this.
I’ve no doubt that you’re aware of the school shooting that took place today (14 Dec 2012) in Connecticut.
Chilling. Heartbreaking. There is no awful descriptor that would be superfluous in this case. I consider myself a strong person, but if you have children, you can understand this: If something were to happen to either of my children, it would break me as a person.
Heartbreaking. Stunning. Infuriating. Natural reactions, all. “How could we have prevented this?” Chances are, we couldn’t. How do you know for certain that someone is about to become a murderer of children? Subtle “tells” in his daily behavior? Outright threats against peoples’ lives? Well, I didn’t receive any of those. Like you, I found out about the attack on the news. I’m not saying this to absolve me of any negligence. They’re just facts: I didn’t know the kid (who will remain nameless in this blog, because I refuse to give notoriety to a child-murdering piece of shit). It happened far away from me. There was nothing that I, or likely you, could do in this case.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of social media activity I’ve seen hasn’t been directed toward trying to heal an emotionally-wounded community, but invective-filled debate over gun control and Second Amendment rights. For anyone to take up either argument right now proves to me that they’ve lost their motherfucking mind.
I’ll deal with the pro-gun-ownership argument first, because it’ll be quicker, and it touches a current hot-button political issue here in Michigan…
Look, guns don’t belong in schools. Period. It’s really that simple. The only people who should ever have any reason to bring a firearm into a school should be law enforcement. If you disagree, well…YOU’RE the one who’s lost your damned mind and this is YOUR intervention, remember? Tough love. Just accept this.
As for my gun-control friends…
Piss and moan about gun ownership all you want. The overwhelming majority of gun owners are law-abiding and responsible. Thugs, criminals and the clinically-insane do not constitute “law-abiding” or “responsible.” Like it or not, you’re going to have to accept this fact. If that’s not good enough, then here’s this: Gun owners own guns. You don’t. So please, for your own good, shut your fucking pie hole. Tough love. Just accept this.
While we’re at it, let’s establish a baseline comparison between “people” and “society.”
“Society” and “civility” are not the same thing as people. People, humans, men and women, by our very nature, are fucking selfish animals. We are also, historically, a murderous lot. As a species, we have a horrifying and bloody history: The Crusades, the Holocaust, and modern Islamic Jihad are a few bright-n-sparkly spots. We’ve also only had firearms for a few hundred years. A lack of firearms has never prevented our species from engaging in killing. No guns? Use a blade. No blades? Use a stick or a rock. Neither of those? Screw it, make a fist and beat the shit out of the other guy.
That’s why we build a “society,” and practice “civility” toward one another. Practice. This requires effort. Constant effort. Collective effort. For as long as each of us lives. Not willing to put forth that effort, or teach its virtues to your kin? Well then, you may want to consider grabbing a weapon. If you disagree about the natural incivility of the human race, then I encourage you to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving.
To be continued…
Copyright © 2012, Michael J. Gagliano.
Mike Gagliano is an amateur writer based in suburban Detroit. Mike has held the position of Production/Creative Services Director for legendary rock station WRIF since 2000. The views and opinions expressed here are not those of WRIF radio or its parent company, Greater Media.