Cover your mouth when you cough!
I say this over and over to my young one. She brings home the school bug every time – oh, those nasty, retched first-graders!
The bug hits and spread housedemic anyway. Little bro gets it. So does mom and dad. The dog laughs at us as we blow our noses.
Suddenly, I’m wary of everything. Wash your hands. Don’t sit on public toilets. For goodness sakes, bring a pair of socks when you go shoe-shopping. Did that person just take a pack of underwear to try on in the fitting room? Wear gloves at all times! Breathing masks!
Pretty soon, you’re walking around with hand sanitizer and Lysol, zapping doorknobs. This is the same person who played with dried gum under desks in middle school.
According to recent scientific studies, we carry more bacteria in our bodies from skin to gut compared to the number of cells that are pure, bona fide human. No wonder losing weight is so tough. The bacteria run around like remoras on sharks, partying inside of us like it’s 9999. Some of them we don’t mind. They help us out, so we take them along for the ride. Other of those critters inside us would make a lab tech run and pull out the Hazmat suit.
Strangely, this doesn’t freak me out as much so as to walk around wearing an aspirator.
The ‘V’ word is another worm altogether. It comes with scare tactics. Viruses are the reason many of us become germaphobes. Ebola, influenza, SARS, salmonella; I’ve yet to hear of a virus with a cute and cuddly name. Caution is best in those cases because, unfortunately, along with nasty bacteria, sickness and death may occur when exposed…
…but when did I truly get so germaphobic about it?
Ah. The Kids.
Being a parent really has put this one in a state of higher awareness. Otherwise, I’d be deep in Game of War hour upon hour. With higher awareness comes higher paranoia. I have to make sure to keep that in check. I try not to cry out ‘bloody murder’ when a play date’s parent neglects to mention until the last minute that her child has strep as she drops off her kid at my doorstep. Listen to those screeching tires as she peels away.
We should definitely teach our children the basics of sanitation, but let’s try to not go overboard with the germaphobic practices, unless you want raise a nest of overclean-compulsive kids. Now go spray that piano with Lysol.
We’ll go to Chuck E. Cheese after flu season. Shush up now and cover your mouth when you cough.
The world is near obliteration, devastated by unending war.
Many surviving humans are rounded up, penned together and placed in a central location near an enormous spacecraft the size of Texas; this is the last refuge for humanity. This bulky craft made of undiminishing material, with its infinite power and food supply, is capable of sustaining human life for the entire remaining population virtually forever. It has enough living space to handle 100:1 per person in case of overpopulation. Though it cannot travel faster than the speed of light, the craft is shielded, capable of withstanding impact of unknown space debris lesser its size.
At the base of the giant ship is the entranceway where people will funnel in to get aboard. Before anyone can enter, however, a choosing must be done. Only the nice people may enter the ship. The mean people will have to stay. After all, we don’t want to start another war while floating in space, do we?
It’s been said, by me admittedly, if we could take all the jerks of the world and put them all on an island away from us, the world would be a better place. Some would say that’s happening right now. It’s called: insert the most vile-inhabited place you know here.
So say it happens. Let’s keep the choosing simple and define the mean as anyone that threatens your world of nice, from the serial killer down to the soccer mom that cut you off during rush hour. They’re all carted away: criminals, thugs, mean bosses, petulant relatives, bratty children, annoying neighbors, feckless teenagers, faceless terrorists and any other enemies that threaten your peace. Not exactly something a nice person would do, and not exactly true world peace, but all the meanies are expunged from the land and sent to their private island.
Peace is achieved.
Unrest occurs. Amidst the Isle of Mean a fortress is built and an armada of mean forces march back toward your home. Instead of trying to exile you to an island for nicetarians, the meanies just try to kill you off. You defend your borders with the lesser nicelings, but the approaching meanies breach your walls, leaving you no choice but to bomb the front line of meanies before they can farther invade the nice lands. Many meanies anticipate the strike and counter-attack in quick reaction.
When the bomb smoke clears and all is quiet, you search for your loved ones and find only young children wandering the desolation. You can’t tell the mean from the nice. The children all cry and weep together.
This is a great opportunity, however. You can now parent every child and teach each of them the nice ways of the world. Only, some of them don’t listen. Many of them can’t even understand your language. All of them are tired, sick and hungry. After days of hearing their aimless crying as you try to press your love and wisdom on to them, many children mock you, revealing their mean inclinations. Several former children of nice convert to meanness, hardened during the war.
The children begin to separate into groups on their own, becoming duplicitous tribes. You try to stop this, becoming the peace ambassador among them. They ignore you, many of them blaming you for their troubles. You try begging some of them to be nice. A few listen but are then chastised for their treason against their tribe. Soon, you are left with no choice but to force them all to be nice by your hand. The two nicer tribes join you reluctantly and you use their numbers to reeducate the remaining tribes on the values of being nice. They revolt and war ensues once again.
You soon take a step back and do nothing. You watch in the safety of your confine until the children have sorted it out on their own. Eventually, they do after many have died.
You step back out and greet the survivors. You are met with the weary that want nothing more to do with war. You invite them to help rebuild your world, but many of them are grown now and seek only freedom from the world of nice and mean. You let them go build their own lives. That would be the nice thing to do.
Playing a deity, even a nice one, doesn’t work when it comes to creating world peace. Sure, we’ll leave it to God to sort it out, but while here on earth let’s admit that life is filled with conflict; the degree of conflict spanning a near infinite arc starting from slight disagreement to total war. It’s a strange paradox. I can declare my love for world peace, but will clench my hands into fists against anyone that tries to harm my children. It’s an unspoken axiom that sounds virtuous and violent at the same time.
Strangely, we even argue on how best to obtain and maintain peace. George Carlin said: “fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.” Malcolm X said: “sometimes you have to pick the gun up to put the gun down.” Then there’s the one-button solution that might end war, but it includes the price of possibly ending all life on earth. We may never go that far, and we may disagree with the solutions we have in place now, but if we do nothing we should at least value those that have fought and are fighting in the name of peace and freedom, both those armed and unarmed.
World peace. Good will. These thoughts of yearning for everyone on earth to love one another makes one exhausted and weary. Because it’s so simple to stop war simply by choosing to. Yet we can’t stop the world in its track no more than we can settle every dispute in a single house.
We can mollify these frustrating thoughts on war in different ways, many of us leaning toward spirituality or apathy. War stories provide perspective, though I seldom enjoy opening up a book on war to see pictures of the dead. I think of my mother, a survivor of the Korean War. She would never share all of her recollections, but told a few stories from time to time. She was ten years old at the time the war began, living in the capital of South Korea. One of her stories was told in casual conversation about how dead bodies near a pond was helping the vegetation grow, providing food for the starving survivors. Other stories were only half-told, filled with hesitant pauses, about the loss of her father. None of her stories give complete perspective, but they are there to say this happened to her and that is all. We may coin it another way: shit happens.
Real war continues today. There might be some solace from quotes. Here are some I leave you with as we scratch our heads toward world peace.
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace” – Jimi Hendrix
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” – Nelson Mandela
“Better than a thousand hollow words, is the one word that brings peace.” – Buddha
“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa
“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi