July 28th, 2006

Bruce, Caroline

I'm Supposed to Hate Them, Right?

One of the phenomena of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is that of perceived hatred.  It isn't enough, apparently, that we have to put up with the real hatred that exists in our world, we now need to go out looking for hatred and manufacturing it if it doesn't exist.  We are now profiled, and according to our profiles, we are told by society who we hate.  This hatred is assumed.

1. I do not like President Bush.  This makes me anti-American.  It also makes me anti-Christian (see #2). So say the claims.

2. I am, despite #1 above, a conservative, fundamentalist, heterosexual Christian.  This means that I hate any number of people, including but not limited to: gays, Muslims, the poor, basically anyone who doesn't hold the same beliefs I do. So say the claims.

3. I am male. This means I hate women as anything other than slaves or sex objects.  So say the claims.

4. I am white.  This means that I hate absolutely anyone with a different skin color, especially Natives and African-North Americans.  So say the claims.

5. I am an English-speaking Canadian.  This means that I hate French-Canadians, and all my waking hours are spent plotting new ways to suppress them.  So say the claims.

6. I am Canadian.  this means I hate Americans (this on top of my being anti-American back in #1).  So say the claims.

Well, it's amazing I get anything done at all, what with all the time I spent hating everyone so much.  My many American friends, my gay friends, my non-Christian friends, my French-Canadian friends, my friends with other skin colors, my female friends, my poor friends, my rich friends, would probably be as surprised as I am to learn how much I hate them.  In fact, I for one am so surprised, I think I'll keep on not hating them, despite what "they" tell me my feelings are.  Besides, life's too short to hate any of these people, let alone all of them.  Then there's Christ's directive to love our neighbor.  Well, that settles it, then.

Seriously, though, in this modern culture of ours, it's much easier to be a victim because it requires less justification. If you say I hate you because you're an American, you can be indignant, and you really don't have to think about why. On the other hand, if we have a difference of
opinion, this requires dialog, it requires a meeting of the mind. That's a lot harder than simply being indignant. But to those looking to be hated, may I suggest that the harder course of action is infinitely more rewarding? You may never agree, there may be principles which you simply cannot and will not compromise. But to take the easy way out, the way of insisting on being hated, short-changes both of you.
  • Current Music
    Nothing Really
Bruce, Caroline

Sesame Street Sense

Everyone has their moments of glory.  For some, it involves saving countless lives in daring acts of heroism.  For others, it involves a political office or a job in the media where they have the ear of the nation.  For others it's outstanding good looks, extraordinary intelligence, or astounding wealth.  Being in possession of none of the above, I had to pick my moment of glory carefully.  When I was ten, I found it.

I'm not sure why the CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] chose me.  But they did.  I received word that they wanted to film a clip for Sesame Street about a blind boy.  Was I interested?  Is President Bush fond of pretzels?, of course I was interested.  And so the arrangements were made, my teacher made arrangements to require a substitute so she wouldn't have to get filmed, and we were off.

They arrived around noon at our school.  They wanted to show me at play in the playground.  So I ran out to the horses (you know, those wooden things that moved back and forth, offering splinters in your butt that were so much more fun than your average, run-of the-mill splinters), the swings, and the monkey
bars.  It was on (or rather, off) the latter that the first mishap of the day occurred.  After completing whatever stunt it was that I was wowing my audience with (moving from point A to point B, I think it was), I mounted the ladder, ready to head down.  I didn't realize that there was someone on the ladder
already.  Unable to grab the side bar with my left hand, I spun around counter clockwise, lost the grip of my right hand, and did an impressive back-flip onto the nice soft shale at the bottom.  The helpful response of the cameraman? "You weren't supposed to do that."

I then spent the afternoon reading aloud, doing simple math with my abacus, and preparing to go home.

I always came home from school on the bus with my brother.  But for this event, my brother would get off of the bus just before the driveway and hide behind the trees, and it would be my cousin who accompanied me.  For twenty years I was indignant, feeling it was very unfair of the Sesame Street people to cut my brother out of the action like this.  It was only recently that I learned that my brother (a teenager at the time) just didn't want to be seen on Sesame Street.  We did the getting off the bus scene three times, I guess so we could get just the right level of spontaneity or something.  Then it was off to feed the rabbits, who were about as happy to be on Sesame Street as my brother, then feed a lamb (I didn't have a lamb, but we borrowed one from my cousin - or as I referred to him in the ensuing dialog, "my cousin ... his brother.").  To round things off, I demonstrated my ability to play the organ, an example which was to music what Vogon Poetry is to poetry (see The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

Following this, they conducted an interview.  They used the answers to my questions to compose a running commentary during the three minute-or-so clip that they put together with all this.  Then they gave me some Big Bird postcards for my trouble, and they were off.

Now, this little piece actually got a fair amount of airtime.  They played it in Canada at least a dozen or more times in the ensuing years.  A friend of my dad's saw it in a hotel room in Chicago, and a friend of mine actually saw the piece while he was in Japan.  I've even been stopped on the street as an adult, and asked if I was ever on Sesame Street.

Of course, something like this doesn't help a young kid in the friend-making department.  The immature attitude of some of the kids around me, combined with my own immature attitude (if anything, less mature than the others) produced some animosity for the short term.  But all in all, it was a wonderful
experience, and, much as I enjoy making fun of it, I'm very proud of it.
  • Current Music
    Sesame Street Theme