So, first, happy Thanksgiving everyone! We’re celebrating here, of course; turkey (all they had was a fifteen-pound behemoth, so we’ve got plenty of turkey, oh yes), mashed potatoes, cornbread, green bean casserole, rolls, corn, cranberry sauce, and of course, homemade pumpkin pie. Ahhh. With fresh whipped cream. (We can’t get Cool Whip here, and call me a philistine, but I love Cool Whip and don’t care that it’s made of inorganic substances. It’s not like we eat the stuff every day.)
And of course, we’re watching the news and keeping an eye on the terrible tragedy in Mumbai. And we’re horrified, and distressed by it.
But you know what? We’re still having Thanksgiving. I’m still blogging (and doing line edits for Unholy Ghosts, yay!) We’re still going to watch Jaws and L.A. Confidential later–our traditional Thanksgiving movies–along with Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
And I refuse to feel bad about that.
Just like I refuse to feel bad about getting caught up in whatever the internet scandal du jour is when the economy is having problems and there’s a war on or whatever. Just like I refuse to feel bad about doing Christmas shopping when there was a tsunami. Or about taking my girls to the park or the play center when…well, insert-very-serious-issue-here.
I’m sure you’ve seen this, too. A little conversation starts on some blog or something about, say, Michelle Obama’s election-night dress. Or Britney Spears. Or any one of thousands of inane and silly–but fun and diverting–discussions. And there’s always got to be some grumpyass, more-intellectual-than-thou person who comes along and chides everyone for “wasting [our] time” talking about clothing or recipes or whatever, when “the economy is in the toilet/there’s a war going on/people are dying/seals are being clubbed/whatever.”
And oooh, does that ever piss me off.
You know what? I’m perfectly aware that there’s a lot of misery in the world. I’m perfectly aware that thousands of people go to bed hungry, or that right at this moment someone could be dying, or losing everything they own, or someone could be measuring themselves for a pretty white seal-sin jacket. And yes, it bothers me. I hate it. Of course I worry about those things, of course they upset me.
But I cannot spend my entire life focusing only on Serious Issues. And neither can you, or anyone else. We’re human; there’s only so much we can take, you know?
Not to mention, even those topics cannot possibly take up entire days and weeks of conversation. You cannot spend your every waking hour writing, talking, or thinking about those topics because they are simply not complex enough to require it.
And what would be the point, anyway? I don’t make government policy and neither do you (well, maybe you do; I know I have some readers in the DC area. *waves*) So we can spend our every waking moment involved in serious discussions about rainforests and ice caps and indigenous peoples, and it won’t make a damn bit of difference–oh, except, apparently, to make us feel superior to others and prove how intellectual and above-it-all we are.
Because really, that’s what’s behind those comments. I love it when people inform me that my interests are silly and my conversations a waste of time–taking time out from their busy schedule of Judging Others and Improving Their Minds, it seems, to drop in and educate the Little Stupid People on what we should really be concerned about. Um, hey, if you have so many Serious Issues on your mind, why are you dropping by here anyway? Did you think perhaps over at the TalkAboutBooksandClothes blog (which I just made up) conversation has suddenly turned to terrorism and its root causes, and your input is sorely needed? Don’t you have anything better to do, like maybe setting up a soup kitchen in your backyard and learning how to weave fabric so you can sew fresh clothing for everyone who needs it? Or maybe you’d prefer to make yourself some clothing–a t-shirt that says something like “I am superior to you in every way, as I only think of serious issues and am very, very smart. This makes me a total boor, but I don’t care because I’m above all that too.” I mean, that is the message you’re trying to get across to us all, right? That you’re better than we are because you’re smarter and more serious, whereas we’re a bunch of flighty idiots? And how dare we have discussions that don’t meet your criteria, or interests that don’t coincide exactly with yours?
I am a human being, and so–I presume–are all of you reading this. And you know what? I have a very wide range of interests and opinions, and I imagine you do as well. I think we ALL do. And while some topics may be more serious than others, I don’t see any reason at all why we should all force ourselves to sit gloomily around, staring at each other and occasionally talking about unemployment.
We NEED diversions. We NEED things to remind us that life goes on. That the world is more than just a vale of tears and misery. There’s good things, too, like high heels and french fries and great books and silver nail polish and action movies where the good guys always win and comedies where you laugh so hard tears roll down your cheeks and music and beer and fast cars and…any one of thousands of other things. That things might be bad now, but that doesn’t mean they’re never going to get better–and that maybe they’re not as bad as we think. We need to remember that even in the midst of tragedy, one of the amazing things about being human is our ability to feel complex emotions; we can laugh through tears, or wear a bittersweet smile. We are perfectly capable of discussing many things, of feeling and thinking many things, all at once.
We’re not one-note beings. And there is nothing in the world wrong with that, just like there is nothing in the world wrong with visiting Go Fug Yourself for some diversion from the misery we see on the news. Just like there is nothing wrong with trading gossip with friends because it’s fun and we need a little break; something to take our mind off our problems.
Just like there is absolutely nothing wrong with being thankful today, even as we spare a thought for the victims in Mubai and their families. And there is nothing wrong with sitting down to a big feast today. There is nothing wrong with planning to go shopping tomorrow to take advantage of all those sales.
Because we need the break. We need the relaxation. We need the comfort of having our families and friends close to us. We need a laugh. We need to remember that in the midst of the bad, there is good, and that we can still laugh and talk and smile; our hearts can still lift, our heads can still clear, and above all, there is still hope in the world.
Because life goes on. And quite frankly, if you don’t know that…maybe you’re not as clever as you think.