It seems like a daily occurrence for us – sometimes hourly – being reminded that we don’t care as much as other people. For example, every time we are looking at Facebook, something we strongly recommend against, we discover someone who cares deeply about something that doesn’t melt our butter much.
Someone you are “friends” with will display a picture of a puppy. Like most puppies it is totally cute, but unlike most puppies it was left to starve on a remote windswept mountain cliff by heartless Wall Street moguls who belong to a satanic nazi cult. Beneath the picture will appear a message like this one:
“IF YOU HAVE A SHRED OF BASIC DECENCY LEFT IN YOUR PATHETIC SO-CALLED LIFE, YOU”LL LIKE AND SHARE THIS POST”
“Liking” it means you click a sort-of smiley thumbs-up button on the screen, and “sharing” means you click a different button, but one that puts the little canine wretch on your wall so all of your Facebook friends will be guilt-tripped too.
After giving it way more thought than it deserved, we have arrived at this conclusion: We don’t care about the puppy. Also, we need new Facebook friends.
Look at it this way, there are a lot of unfortunate puppies. Hey the whole canine scene is fraught with peril. Your dad is a dog. Your mother is, uh, also a canine. You could be the “runt” of the litter. It’s not all kibbles and bits, there, Rover.
Also there are unfortunate kittens, colts, walrus calves and baby plankton. The nice plankton too, not the megalomaniacal ones like on Spongebob. So should we only be compassionate towards the ones that show up on Facebook? Animals are out there eating each other all the time, even the cute ones. What if you “like” the pathetic puppy and then sit down to a nice dinner of veal scallopini? Thumbs up! You’re eating one of the cute ones.
What about veterans? We don’t think most of them are impressed with social media likes and keyboard expressions of respect. We think we should show them the deference they’ve earned in person. We’ve actually been in airports where people applauded uniformed service people when they came down the concourse. It’s not much but it’s real. It’s also one of the reasons why we show respect for the flag. They sure did.
Okay, then, what about dead people? This is a tricky one. Because you’ve got to care enough to respect the dead, but on the other hand, dying is something everybody gets around to doing sooner or later. Not that we personally are in any hurry. Still, what is the relative importance of the death of any one person compared to any other unless he happens to be a Ravens fan?. Stalin said one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic. Of course when uncle Joe personally bought the dacha, champagne corks were popping all over and in Siberia they formed conga lines and danced around the Gulag. Some tragedy.
Anyway, here’s some perspective for our feeling about death. We were in a local public house (saloon) the night Diana, Princess of Wales, checked into the mahogany Hilton. It was Labor Day weekend, 1997, and we were, of course, just barely old enough to imbibe. The 11 o’clock news came on and one of the stories was about a 2 year old from the Butler area who was killed in an automobile accident. Suddenly, big shot network news anchors broke into the local newscast with the big-big-big news that Lady Di was believed to have been killed in a traffic accident in Paris. We immediately thought the death of the Butler toddler was way sadder than the death of the 36 year old jet-setter. But the ensuing spasm of grief had nothing to do with the toddler.
Over 151,000 people die every day, worldwide; over a million a week, 55 million a year. In the next 80 years virtually everyone you know will shuffle off this mortal coil including you and me but probably not Betty White. We care about you and yours, dear reader, and truth be told, we care more about us and ours. But we don’t care about Lady Di.
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