"You can do anything, but lay off of my blue suede shoes" --Carl Perkins

Friday, November 04, 2005

Play Nice

“You’re Welcome… Jerk! You Got a Problem Saying, “Thank You”, Pal?”

That’s what I yelled at the guy as he walked down through the breezeway away from Pizza Perfect yesterday. He didn’t even turn around, he just kept on walking, the miserable putz. What unspeakable horrors could this monster have committed to send my usual mild-mannered disposition packing? What crimes against humanity did this depraved hooligan commit to invoke such wanton fury from my genteel countenance? Oh, I'll tell you what he did. He didn’t say, “Thank you” - the sorry bastard. That's what he did.

Yesterday, a friend and I went to grab a quick couple of slices from the nearby PP. My friend reaches for one of the handles on the double door, and through the glass we see someone struggling to get the door open while balancing 5 boxes of pies. So, naturally, my friend opens one side of the door, and I open the other to allow the pizza juggler to pass easily out through the door, thus ending his minor torment. OK. Did we get a "Thank you"? No. Did we get a nod of recognition? No. No, we get a look from this guy like we had been cutting trumpeting burrito farts all day at his mother's funeral.

What's the friggin deal? I'm seeing more and more of this crap everywhere - on elevators, on the road, in restaurants. Why, just yesterday John H also had a near miss with another such self-centered dufus, and John nearly paid the ultimate price for it.

Here's what I think is happening. People are allowing themselves to loose their empathy. I think it's subconscious, a self-defensive complacency brought-on by the layers upon layers of complexity each of us is forced to deal with in our ever-increasing busy lives. We can't cope, so we shut down. Think of all of the drugs, the cell phones, the yoga lessons, the ipods, the food, the personal trainers, the music, the self-help books, the TV, the cars, the movies, the rss feeds, the blogs. Think of all the crap we consume and escape into on a daily bases just to be able to get through the day. So, life becomes even more jumbled and confusing, and in order to make room, we drop the superfluous stuff - the stuff that doesn't give immediate relief to our stress - stuff like expressions of appreciation - the thank you's, the hand waves, the blinker signals.

But see, these things matter in the long run, or in the very short run in the case of the blinker signal. When we forget to say, "Thank you", to someone it's always easier to skip the hassle of doing it the next time. Eventually it affects our ability to give a damn about others entirely. We lose our ability to empathize with others. Then we, as a society and a nation, might one day rally behind a leader who'll start a war just for the sick hell of it, or money or whatever, but without considering the consequences for the people he decides we should invade.

Good manners are important, people. They force us to recognize the feelings of others. That's why I hammer it into my kid's heads everytime they ask for juice. "What do you say..."?
They may not get the best grades and they may get in trouble for cussing like little crack whores, but the teachers do say they have good manners. So, maybe one day, when my son is running late to his dead-end job, he won't forget to say "please" and "thank you" after he screams out, "Somebody hold the God-damned elevator"! Carry on, my wayward son. Carry on, indeed.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Open to All... Except...

What is the purpose of a congregation? Is it to invite all members of community together, or are there prerequisites to membership? Apparently, the United Methodist Church has made their policy clear.

Oh no. I agree. It is the church’s prerogative to decide how they conduct their business. No one has a right to tell them how or what to believe. I’m not going to do that, but I’m not going to join them, either. That is why my family and I will no longer be attending the Methodist church we have been visiting lately. Not until certain hypocritical policies are remedied, and the United Methodist Church finally puts into action the true meaning of, “open to all”.

My family and I have been looking for a new church since settling into our new home. Since then we’ve visited Episcopal, Unitarian, Presbyterian, and Methodist congregations. Until today, we had been decidedly moving in the direction of sticking with the Methodist church - my wife’s preference, actually. I’m normally indifferent to most of the differences between the philosophies. Hey, I can believe what I want, wherever I want.

So, until today, I was copasetic with the idea of joining said Methodist church. But, then I read the news today, oh Boy, and suddenly one of those philosophies became more than a minor issue.

Now, I’m cool with a denomination separating and identifying itself with an idea such as Predestination, or the hows, whens, and whys of baptism, or how it defines and divides up the Trinity. Those ideas don’t bother me. I’m there to listen to a decent sermon and pray to the God I believe in. But, when a denomination prevents and even punishes its members for their sexual preferences - for loving the “wrong” sorts of people, I tend to take issue with that.

Come on people. How can prejudices like these help to serve God? How do they serve humanity? Do you really think God wants us to hole-up into elite social clubs, and wall-off those people that may not fit our criteria of initiation? Do you think Jesus would have turned his back on someone, just because that someone is attracted to people of the same sex? Do you really think he would’ve cared about their sexual orientation? Do you honestly believe that God is a bigot? I can’t believe that he is. I don’t care what is written down, or where it is written. I will not worship a God who is bigoted, nor will I support a denomination that believes he is.

So long, Methodist Church. Call me when you get over your hang-ups.