(( This is something I just found on an old floppy disk - dated 1994. I was 20 at the time I wrote this. Funny. ))
Swimming Upstream in the River Styx
I toyed with this idea for about 20 minutes one evening in February before sitting down at my computer. Originally this was meant to be a rant; a ‘vent’ if you will, about the sad state of affairs as I see it. But it morphed into something much bigger. That little guy on my left shoulder started whispering, “No one’s going to listen to you!” while the guy on my right said, “Hey, it couldn’t hurt.” Why my conscience is male I have no idea.
I suppose an author usually starts by telling you what the book IS. It is, quite simply, “What’s Wrong With the World and How to Fix it.” Sounds a bit stupid, doesn’t it? Well, let me tell you what the book is NOT, and then you can decide if you want to continue reading.
1) It is not a self-help book.
2) It is not political satire.
3) It is not religious.
4) It is not a guidebook for wayward citizens of the global consciousness.
5) It is not comedy. I do hope you laugh at parts of it. But it’s really serious too.
6) It is not politically correct.
7) It is not politically correct.
8) It is not politically correct.
WHY does this book exist? Because it NEEDS to. People have no clue what is wrong with them for the most part. People have no clue what is wrong with the world. Some get so wrapped up in their own lives that nothing else matters. Some get so wrapped up in “causes” that nothing else matters, not even their own lives.
This book might be seen as a humorous spelunking expedition into antisocial beliefs. It might be seen as a plea for everyone to “just get along.” It might even be considered to be a brutish obscenity designed for nothing more than getting attention. Nope. Wrong. Thanks for playing. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, of course. This is mine. But it is also something much more. This book contains the best, and sometimes only, ways that we as the species human can survive and learn to flourish happily. “I thought that was what we were doing?” you ask? Nope. Wrong. Poor misguided soul. Read this book with an open mind. Make of it what you will.
One more thing before we delve right into the nitty gritty. WHO is this book for? Simply put, it is for EVERYONE over eighteen. If someone under eighteen is going to have access to this, please be advised that I will mention drugs, alcohol, sex, and use curse words whenever I feel necessary.
Whose Fault is It Anyway??
It’s yours. Yes you.
Let me explain. There are many reasons why people say they do the things they do. Fate, peer pressure, any number of popular social disorders (sex addiction….puh-lease!), demonic temptation, media influence, bad parental role models, etc. Of all of these, fate is the only one that you can’t really argue with. Except for the fact that fate may not actually exist. It is my personal opinion that half the people who believe in fate are just plain silly, and the other half are using it as an excuse for everything they do. But let’s say it does exist. Then I suppose it was fate that made you pick up this book, and fate that you read it and learn from it. So…that excuse shattered.
Next! Peer Pressure. This is a biggy, especially directed toward the parents of the 10-20 crowd. Of course it can be used as an excuse for lots of adult things too: drug use, cheating on a spouse or partner, squandering money, doing the hula half naked on the boss’ desk at the corporate Christmas party.
Does peer pressure exist? Of course it does! Is it an excuse for anything? NO.
The cool kid Johnny tries to pass you a joint with the standard, “Come on…everyone’s doing it.” (I have had quite a few joints passed to me over the years and no one has ever said that to me. I believe it is something the advertising industry made up.) You say “No thanks.” If you take a hit, whose fault is it? Yours! Unless Johnny actually sat on you and held the joint in your mouth while pinching your nostrils shut, its your fault. (NOTE: I happen to believe in the legalization of marijuana, so don’t think I’ll think less of you if you do actually take a hit. FURTHER NOTE: All those politicians/sports stars/actors that said they never inhaled? They are either lying or they are dorks. That is a little peer pressure from me, but it shouldn’t make you do anything you don’t want to.)
Lola, the tight-skirted secretary at work, starts flirting with you at the water cooler even though you are married. Biff and Bob, the guys from accounting, keep elbowing you and saying “Hey…she wants you, man. Come on Bill…show her what you’re made of.” You say “No thanks.” If you plan a lunch break rendevous out behind the dumpsters, whose fault is it? Yours! Unless Biff and Bob actually took part in some weird voyeuristic male rape fantasy, it’s your fault.
You are standing in line at the local electronics store. You notice all the guys around you are buying one thousand inch high definition plasma TVs on sale today for a quarter of a million dollars. You can feel them eyeing the pack of blank VHS tapes you are buying and sneering at you. You buy the tapes and enjoy the re-runs of your favorite 80s sit-com all weekend long. If you give in to the “keeping up with the Jones’” ideal, whose fault is it? Yours! (NOTE: Of course, if you can afford the big mother of a TV, you’d better invite me over for at least one football game and some sci-fi action film with lots of exploding planets or something.)
Doing the hula half naked on the boss’ desk at the Christmas party? No one would even TRY to make you do that. And don’t blame it on the booze either. It’s your fault you drank too much.
NEXT! What about social and psychological disorders? Let me start by saying that there are some very real chemical imbalances and mental health issues that people cannot help. No one chooses to be bi-polar or have schizophrenia or alzheimers disease. But EVERYTHING is classified as a disorder these days. Sexual addiction? As I said before, “Puh-lease!” If you can’t keep your dick in your pants or your skirt pulled down, its your fault. If you DO consider yourself to have one of these fringe disorders, it is still your responsibility to get help: medication, counseling, whatever you need.
NEXT! Demonic Temptation. I am not going to get into a religious debate about whether demons or Satan exist as real forces that nance about on earth trying to get people to do bad things. If you believe that; that’s your business. BUT, if you DO believe that, it is still your responsibility not to give in to temptation.
NEXT! Media Influences. Oh boy….this one is huge. People blame EVERYTHING on the media. Violence in schools, sexual promiscuity, breakdown of the family, homosexuality…the list goes on. First of all, the TV/radio/video game has a little button labelled ON/OFF. You will not receive an electric shock if you touch it and it does not contain a hidden poisoned dart. Use the darn thing if you want to. Second, everything in video games is fiction. Most things on TV are fiction—including the news, but we’ll get into that later. If you cannot differentiate between real life and fiction, you are responsible for getting yourself some mental help. (NOTE: I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, and I have never in my life dropped an anvil on someone’s head.) Media does not reflect societal norms. Repeat this to yourself. Tell it to your kids. Understand this.
NEXT! Bad parental figures or role models. This is a tough one. Of course bad parents can make it much more difficult to do the right thing in life, simply because you were never taught what the right thing is. If you are over eighteen, you are an adult now. Your life is your responsibility. You may have more to overcome, but only you can overcome it. If you need it, get therapy or go to a doctor. Every human being has intrinsic potential. Potential. That’s all anyone gets to start out with. It is up to you what to do with it. Don’t get me wrong here. Don’t go thinking “heartless b****” and throw the book down. If you come from an abusive home, you will need a lot of help to get right again. But again, it is your responsibility to get that help. Coming from a ‘broken home’ is not an excuse. Over half of all marriages in America end in divorce. All these homes can be described as ‘broken.’ Many great people were raised by single parents. What makes you so special that you get to run wild or have a breakdown just because you didn’t have two parents around?
To summarize: Whose fault is it? It’s YOURS!
Addendum for parents:
If your child resides in and was raised in your house, under your care, anything that they do wrong is your fault too. I am not calling for a worldwide guilt trip here. Guilt is a waste of emotion and energy. But you must accept responsibility for your children’s actions and choices. Your son takes the joint from Johnny against your wishes. “But I didn’t raise him like that!” you shout. Be objective and honest. Did you raise him to know he has a choice in all things? Did you raise him to have strength of character enough to go against the grain? Did you raise him to make his own decisions based on good solid facts?
If your child is already in the teenage years, it is too late to raise him or her. At that age, they are making some of their own decisions, getting ready for that great metamorphosis into adulthood. (NOTE: It is not fair that catapillers get shimmery white cocoon things and all we humans get is acne.) It is too late to tell them “You’d better listen to me. I’m your father/mother!” They know who you are. They know how it all works in minute detail.
If your child is in their fifth to twelfth year, it may be too late to raise him or her, depending on how much damage you have already done. Kids are smart and they want to make their own decisions no matter how young they are. Ladies, have you ever told your husband to take out the trash and they just won’t do it? It’s the same thing with kids. You cannot nag them into a positive life experience. Lead by example. Use subtle trickery if necessary to make them think the whole ‘being good’ thing was their idea in the first place. If you never say “thank you” when someone passes the peas, how can you expect your kids to? If your kids never utilize the basics of good manners, guess whose fault it is for not showing them how. If you put work or activities before being a family, how can you expect your kids to value the family unit? If your kid wants to spend every waking minute at Joey’s house, in front of the video game, and answers every question about “what did you do today?” with “Nothin’,” guess whose fault it is? If you never open a book, magazine, or newspaper; if you never express interest in finding out about anything new, how can you expect your kids to enjoy learning? If your kid doesn’t do his homework, complains about reading anything, and never wants to go to a museum, zoo, historical site, watch a documentary, or talk to you and ask you questions about life, whose fault is it?
“But I do all those things!” you moan. “I’m the best parent I know how to be!” If you are not getting the desired result, (barring true mental or physical problems on your child’s part) you are doing it wrong. You have to try something else. Read a book about child behavior, go to family counseling if you have to, or just listen to your instincts. (NOTE: PLEASE realize that books and counselors do not know everything. You, as a parent, should know your child better than anyone else. They can give information, but you have to figure out how to put it into practice. Do not leave the raising of your children to anyone else, whether it be the schools, a babysitter, the soccer coach, or the television. It is YOUR responsibility.
People may be really ticked off by the time they get to this paragraph. IF they get to this paragraph. “How dare you blame me for my kids, my job, my life, the world?”
Family Comes First.
It would be really, really nice if we could all be part of some big global consciousness and everyone ‘just got along’ and helped each other out. Communism mixed with the lifestyle of those blond people in the original “Time Machine” would be nice. We could all sing “Kum-ba-ya” and get really strong cheek muscles from smiling at eachother.
Idealism is a waste of time. This world is SO far away from ideal that it is about as useful to dream about idealism as it would be to dream about green-winged, purple-eyed fairies that grant wishes and clean your house for you.
A whole happy world is not going to happen anytime soon. You have to prioritize. So. Where do you want life to be ideal, “Over There” or “Right Here at Home.” Gee. I wonder which you picked? Don’t feel guilty. Self-preservation is a natural thing.
So, you want “Right Here at Home” to be ideal. Let’s pretend that is The United States of America. The USA is also far from ideal. Do you really think you can change the way things run in America? Vote? Let’s be realistic. Casting your vote for president is about as effective as spitting into a poisonous pond filled with starving piranhas. So that’s out.
Your state, town community? Getting warmer! You can make positive change in your local geographic area. And its great to try. Go clean the park, volunteer at the Old Age Home, do whatever will help and make you feel good too. Now the park is clean and the Old Age people are yelling “Go HOME already!” at you. And so you go home to a spouse who doesn’t talk to you anymore and who refuses to cuddle after sex and has just decided to take some obscure class at the local community college rather than hang out with you after dinner. And you ask your son what he learned in school today and he says “Nothin’” and your daughter suddenly has a navel ring and a boyfriend with a motorcycle and you never even noticed when she stopped playing with dolls.
Family comes first. Whether you are the parent, the spouse, or the child, these are the people you are responsible for. Imagine if everyone in the world just concentrated on the functionality of their family. Don’t you think things would work a bit smoother? Also, everyone would have a refuge to go to when work/school/life in general got tough.
So, how do you make your family life better? It’s really quite simple. Talk and listen. Hug and kiss. Share and never ever keep score.
((( I had some other chapter headings, but never got around to writing them I suppose. )))