Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ignore It... Maybe It'll Go Away

There's a song in the musical The Wiz sung by the Wicked Witch that should become the new American national anthem. It's called "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News." We may have to live in this world, but by God, we don't want to HEAR about it...especially if it's gonna hurt!

The latest example is the lady in New Hampshire who complained that her doctor told her she was too fat. No doubt if he HADN'T told you and you dropped dead of a heart attack, someone in your family would have sued him for not warning you to drop a few pounds. But, really, she didn't know she was fat when she went in for the appointment? Come on...

Once I told my doctor I felt like I was "getting fat as a pig." She dismissed me with a wave and a "pshaw." Now, what I needed was for her to kick me in my ample behind, but instead she made me feel good about myself. What is the opposite of tough love? Just like the rest of America, I'm getting too fat and it might take one enormous "come to Jesus" meeting for us to wake up and smell the banana bread. So, I say to the New Hampshire Doc..."Thanks for keepin' it real!"

Let me assure you I, too, can avoid reality like nobody's business. Once, in a counseling session, my therapist told me I was "pain phobic." Even though she was absolutely right, I still want to know, who the hell isn't? I don't know a lot of people who look at grief, for example, and think to themselves, "Oh boy, here we go, let's jump into mourning with both feet and feel that sadness!" I've seen my mother nearly strip the stain off the kitchen cabinets in her effort to literally and figuratively wipe her feelings away in a cleaning frenzy.

But in the same way that rebound relationships can blur the memory of a bad break-up, distraction, too, can be useful -- God knows there is plenty available to us. The ancient Romans, in order to control the unemployed masses, gave them "bread and circuses" to keep them off the streets and out of trouble. In the early 1970s, Nixon expanded welfare funding to avoid more urban riots like those in Watts and Newark. Today, we have the internet, cable TV, pornography, I-pods, talk radio, video games, and NetFlix to fill our heads to bursting with anything BUT bad news. Hell, in Seattle, we even prefer coffee over sex, for God's sake. Anything to avoid that whole personal interaction thing, which might make us vulnerable to potential pain. A cup of coffee never hurt anyone's feelings and when you pair it with big pink frosted cookie, things even start looking up, by golly.

But denial rarely gets as arrogant as it did when Lance Armstrong took a bike ride with President Bush this week and never even mentioned Cindy Sheehan. "It never came up," he said, even though their route brought them very close to the Sheehan camp. Talk about missing an opportunity to use your bully pulpit for good. History's only seven-time Tour De France winner and you can't leverage that to encourage the President to show some respect to a mourning constituent? You can raise $50 million with one yellow plastic wrist bracelet, but when it comes to knocking some sense into that Crawford yahoo, well, you must be too busy. And you can't use the excuse that politics don't matter when you get the honor of meeting the President. Do you ever hear people bragging about meeting Herbert Hoover or Richard Nixon?

This line of thinking came to me while reading a brilling Tom Tomorrow cartoon about how Americans really don't want to think much about the reality of our invasion of Iraq. I'll let him speak for himself. Don't be afraid. Take a deep breath, pick yourself up, and take a minute to read it. You can take it. I believe in you.

click on cartoon to see a larger image

More Tom Tomorrow cartoons


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