|Mahatma Gandhi rides Bodacious, 1945 PBR World Finals|
Something very heavy has been weighing on me. My well meaning and very dear Aunt Mary is a devout Christian, and yesterday, in response to a Facebook post of mine, she left a comment that her “heart aches” for me. Well, I’ve been stewing in a funk ever since. I keep asking myself: How far should one go to fight for what they believe while still respecting another person’s way of life?
My post was meant to poke fun at all those hackneyed motivational vignette pick-me-ups we always see online that offer lukewarm clichés of inspiration like, “Live - Laugh - Love,” or “You have to look through the rain to see the rainbow.” How ironic it would be, I thought, if one removed the mamby-pamby sentiment and replaced it with a brazen, rude, jaw-dropping dinner party no-no of a statement. So in my post, appearing over serene sand dunes, in the blue-blue sky I wrote in calligraphic glow: “There is No God, Republicans Suck and Your House Smells Bad.”
When you get right down to it, Aunt Mary, whom I love very much, is merely letting me know that she will be experiencing gastroesophageal reflux in heaven while I weep and gnash my teeth in a paddle boat on a fiery lake of burning sulfur during my extended vacation in hell. It’s common courtesy, that’s all. Then again, what will neighbors think? Either that or Aunt Mary knows my house smells like cat turds. Or maybe she heard I was going to vote for Ralph Nader again (whether he likes it or not).
Alas, my intentions for the post have been misunderstood. Such are the dangers of parody. Or perhaps God is not a subject welcome in her preferred pieces of whimsy. My dad wasn’t big on irony either. He always called me a smart ass, but I think that was his go-to line whenever he didn’t get the joke.
Of course, how would I know there is no God? And I don’t know if ALL Republicans suck. I’m sure many of them haven’t got to that page yet in The Joy of Republican Sex. And do I know if the stray Facebook user who hasn’t blocked me yet and happened upon my mirthful meme has a stinky house? No. So I commented back and told Aunt Mary to cheer up, I’m happy. Hope that was enough.
Is there intolerance etiquette? For instance, I post jokey stuff on Facebook a lot and sometimes it may seem a little intolerant, but on good days, we all laugh. That’s the point. I’m compelled to make the funny. To attempt it that is. My goal is usually fun with an edge, you know, like getting a blowjob on top of the Empire State Building, not the viewing platform, but the very top - the pointy part. And I hope I never succumb to all-out cynicism, because I still have a lot of heroes that I don’t want to disappoint. Most of my heroes are satirists. George Carlin. He looms large. Carlin may not have shown the same courage or had the same impact on our culture as a person like Rosa Parks, but he definitely made a difference in my life. And I believe in the butterfly effect. Just like Kevin Bacon may one day accept my Friend request, one day I may have an impact on the world, or a zip code, or Shannon. We share a router. I could live with that.
So that brings me to my point. Satire and other forms of non-violent protest are, to me, the acceptable ways in which one can express displeasure for differing beliefs, practices or values. The only reason I can figure that somebody may have a problem with another person’s way of life is if it infringes upon their own liberty. Woe to you if your way of life involves converting others over to your way of life. And woe to you if your way of life involves exterminating others who don’t share your way of life. Don’t be greedy. Of course this does not mean that one should not defend themselves against violence. This does not mean that if you witness a lady down the street getting the shit kicked out her that you should just turn around, go back inside and crank up Ellen.
Knowing when to act and how to act is tough isn’t it?
Fear is a bullpen. Not the baseball variety but the cowpoke kind. This bullpen of fear wraps around a bodacious beast, both boiling and berserk. Hinge pins pop and dormant dreams steam-crash gates, some gnarly, some pearly. Now more of a blur than a bull, this hulking mass makes a choking pass through infected portals, long indecent with the lingering flatulence of an influence influenza. Intuition informs the beast to seek a distant light, a light beyond indifferent oppression, a light beyond irrational severity, a light beyond diseased authority. But fight it must, this beast. And for whom does it fight? For empire, king and captain? For ma, pa and chaplain? For longitude, latitude, beatitude, attitude? For God, corps, country? For core, mantle, crust? For ashes to ashes? For dust to dust? None of the above, in fact on the contrary, most often it is one or all of the above that the beast must fight to reach the light.
Can courage prevail or will said bull play it safe, act dumb, go with the flow or be led back to its bullpen by the ring in its nose? Nobody said it was going to be easy.
But heroes put their boots on like the rest of us, right? Lying on unmade beds, grunting in their unbuckled jeans? Maybe heroes trust their hearts more than most - and not just trust. Maybe they have the good sense to know when to hand the reins over and follow their heart when their heart is the only one around who’s got D batteries for the flashlight and has the beans to tell Siri where her next destination will be if she doesn’t up.
I don’t think heroes try to tame the bull. Pretty sure they don’t. Instead, I think they use their disquietude as trail mix for the soul. Then they hunker down, hang on and find a rhythm. They start jerking back and forth like a car antenna, then through much static, some fuzzy whoops and hollers begin to emerge. These are all the other buckaroos out there. The ones that went the distance. All eight seconds. Or died trying. Or tie dyeing, more likely.
Rider get ready!
BUZZER SOUNDS / THE CLOCK STARTS
00:01 “I have seen the Promised Land!”
00:02 “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
00:03 “Soylent Green is people!”
00:04 “Toga! Toga!”
00:05 "Badges? We ain’t got no badges.”
00:06 “Winning, duh!”
00:07 “Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir. At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
00:08 “Give up MY seat? You want me to stand up? Mmm-mm, no, I don’t think so, Mr. Bus Driver. You want to have me arrested? Go ahead....make my day.”
BUZZER SOUNDS / CLOCK STOPS
Next rider, get ready.