I’ve heard this aphorism many times and it has always been ascribed to Oscar Wilde. But Wilde didn’t say it and in fact, no one lays claim to it.
Nonetheless, it’s true. For reasons beyond my grasp, no one seems to hate you more than the people to whom you have done favors, especially when you weren’t even asked. Gratitude seems to be the one emotion human beings can’t find in their emotional bucket.
For many people, where gratitude would be the logical response to a kindness extended for no better reason than friendship or love, the recipient, unable to respond in kind, grows bitter, angry and comes up with a thousand reasons why you really did it. You were jealous and were thus proving yourself the better person. You were backstabbing your “friend” by making them look needy (never mind that they were needy). You were making yourselves look good while making them look bad. And that’s merely the beginning.
And this is how, by being kind and supportive, you wind up with an enemy for whom you were nothing but gracious.
I’ve had it happen several times, though most of the people apologized eventually and admitted they behaved badly. I just don’t know why people act like that. It baffles me. I am, if anything, overly grateful for kindness extended and often almost shocked. It is so rare.
Gratitude is the rarest of friendly interactions, so don’t be shocked when you do your bestie a favor and you get anger and bitterness in return. It makes no sense, but it’s such a common response.
People aren’t logical or sensible.
And now, some classic quotes from Oscar Wilde. Some of these you probably already know. Others you may not know or have attributed to others.
This is the stuff of which memes on Facebook are made!
You can’t live without news, but no one can live with it either.
I don’t know how currently active reporters manage to cope with the news these days. It used to be a job. A hard job, an active and sometimes even significant job. Now, it’s like being on the front lines in a war zone. A constant nonstop war zone.
I’ve never been so glad that Garry is retired. It’s bad enough as it is, but if he had to go out there and personally deal with the maniacs and morons running our world? I’m sure he’d wind up crazier than they.
Sometimes, I really wish the news was reallyfake. That we wish it away. Throw a spell over it and turn it into toads. Then we would not have to deal with reality and its effect on our lives.
Maybe that’s how the crazies who howl at Trump manage to do it. If the real news is fake, then the yelling, screaming, chanting — it’s like going “nah, nah, nah” when someone is saying something you don’t want to hear. They are making it go away by making a noise and they won’t have to deal with what it will do to them. Or how it will affect their children and grandchildren. If it’s not real, it can’t hurt anyone, right?
Somehow, I suspect all the screams and howls prove they do know it’s real. Like two-year-olds, they think a tantrum will make it vanish.
It didn’t work when they were two and it’s unlikely to work now. But hey, a good shriek probably feels good.
I think I’ll go do some keening and maybe a little high-pitched ululation. Perhaps the dogs will join me. Maybe we should all do it together. Set up a time and place and everyone can scream, screech, yowl, howl, yelp, and bay into the air and the wind will carry it around the world.
A lot of my post this morning are quotes from “The Washington Post.”
Why, you might ask, since I’m a born and bred New Yorker living in New England and Boston for more than 30 years, would I read “The Post” rather than “The NY Times” or “Boston Globe”? Because both of these two papers — run by the same company, by the way — charge nearly $30/month for an online edition. In other words, $60/month if in my madness, I subscribed to both.
I like the Times and the Globe. I would prefer to read local news and not just national news. But their prices make that impossible. If the Times/Globe organization wants to get a bump upward in their readership, they should reconsider their pricing. Even if they were delivering the paper to my door (physically, the actual newspaper), I still could not afford those prices.
I understand that it’s hard times for the press these days, but raising prices so that the very people who might actually read them can’t do it is stupid in every possible way. If you drive away your only readership, you are driving yourselves out of business as so many others already have done.
I pay $10/month for “The Washington Post” and anyone can get a trial of their paper for a month for $1. They also have “cheat sheet” online papers that come out many times a day to update you on issues that are actively progressing, as well as summaries of current issues on any number of subjects from sports to politics to humor.
I would quote other newspapers too, but anything worth reading is a “pay to read”paper. I’m out of money.
It is ironic that “The Boston Herald,” which was Boston’s “other” newspaper — the right-leaning one — was bought up by the Trumpist Sinclair Group and now, you can get whatever crap they print for free. They aren’t worrying about circulation. They own more than half the papers and TV stations in the country and can (and do) say whatever they feel like saying. It doesn’t need to have even a scrap of truth in it. They say march and anyone who wants to keep his or her job, marches.
Back to the subject of escape.
As the holder of two legal passports, one from Israel and the other (obviously) U.S.A., I always had the thought in my mind that if things turned pear-shaped in this country, I had someplace to go. It never crossed my mind that both countries would go fruity together. I cannot tell you how sad this makes me. Israel has always been a country with a lively internal war going on inside it, but it was a war of words, thoughts, and ideas.
Since I left and came home in late 1987, Israel changed. The children who grew following the 1967 and 1973 wars are more hawkish than were their parents. More hard-nosed “hold the liners” and less inclined to reason and discussion.
I saw this beginning to happen when I was there. I saw the country taking a sharp right turn. Arabs blame Israelis for this, but they can also blame themselves. Whenever Israel tried to find any road to peace, Arab “neighbors” shattered it with bombs.
Why? I don’t think most Arab-Israelis want a war any more than most Americans want a war … but the driving force for war is never a nation’s citizens, but its politicians and generals. War makes those people powerful and rich. If it kills off the population? So? They are not in the rank and file these days and probably their children are not, either.
If the Arabs ever wanted peace — something I often question — they had many opportunities make a deal to forget everyone’s past and start from NOW. Build peace on today. Build peace on what we need to move ahead into a better future and LET THE PAST GO. I know it’s not easy, but that’s what has to happen and if no one can do it, there will never be peace in this or any future generation.
Which brings me back to the good old U.S.A.
Did I always know this was a deeply flawed country that liked pretending our past didn’t count and we are/were/will be a nation of equals? Sure I knew that. Did I believe we could turn around and become the people we fought against or think we could stir up the type of hatred which brought on the Civil War — in 2019?
No, really, I didn’t believe it. I knew it wasn’t impossible because I read history. I know nothing is impossible. I just thought it very unlikely. And yet, here we are, at the front door, fingers on the doorbell of hatred and despair.
From this morning’s “Washington Post,” a few thoughts to ponder. If we can’t escape — almost none of us can because we have nowhere to go or where we could go doesn’t want us and maybe, we don’t want them, either.
1) Trump’s rhetoric is creating a more dangerous climate and corroding the public discourse.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) asked the Capitol Police last night to provide extra protection for the four lawmakers, citing a growing threat profile, per Fox News.
There are also longer-term impacts to consider. For better or worse, the president is a role model. Modeling bad behavior sends signals to young people just as much as good behavior.
Conservative columnist George Will argues that this is why Trump is worse than Richard Nixon. “I believe that what this president has done to our culture, to our civic discourse, you cannot unring those bells and you cannot unsay what he has said, and you cannot change that he has now in a very short time made it seem normal for schoolboy taunts and obvious lies to be spun out in a constant stream,” the consistent Trump critic said on a New York Times Book Review podcast last week. “This will do more lasting damage than Richard Nixon’s surreptitious burglaries did.”
2) Trump’s “go back” rhetoric is consistent not only with his own long history of attacks on people he perceives as the other but also the nation’s oscillating attitudes toward immigration throughout its history.
Marc Fisher traces the etymology: “The Know-Nothings wanted German and Irish immigrants to get out because they were allegedly subversive and diseased people who were stealing American jobs. White preachers and politicians of the 1820s urged freed blacks to move to West Africa, supposedly for their own good. From that drive to encourage blacks to go back where they came from to waves of nativist attacks on Catholics, Jews, Asians and Hispanics in nearly every generation that followed, ‘go home’ rhetoric is as American as immigration itself. ( … )
“There is hardly any ethnic or racial group in the country that hasn’t been told to go back where they came from. In collections of voices from the Japanese American internment camps of the World War II era, in diaries of the earliest Italian and Irish immigrants, in Jewish novels and memoirs from the turn of the 20th century, the slur is a mainstay. … From Calvin Coolidge’s warnings in the 1920s that the country was becoming ‘a dumping ground’ and that ‘America must remain American’ to the ‘America: Love it or leave it’ rhetoric that surrounded Richard Nixon’s presidency, the nation’s leaders have struggled for two centuries with a central ambivalence about its core identity as a magnet for immigrants.”
— Conservative lawyer George Conway, the husband of counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, explains in an op-ed for The Post why this episode caused him to conclude that Trump is a racist – after years of giving him the benefit of the doubt. ( … )
3) White identity politics is driving Trump as 2020 approaches, and the Republican Party that he’s remaking in his image. Trump is making clear that his reelection campaign will feature the same explosive mix of white grievance and anti-immigrant nativism that helped elect him.
Michael Scherer explains: “Trump’s combustible formula of white identity politics has already reshaped the Republican Party, sidelining, silencing or converting nearly anyone who dares to challenge the racial insensitivity of his utterances. It also has pushed Democratic presidential candidates sharply to the left on issues such as immigration and civil rights, as they respond to the liberal backlash against him. Unknown is whether the president is now on the verge of more permanently reshaping the nation’s political balance — at least until long-term demographic changes take hold to make nonwhite residents a majority of the country around 2050. ( … )
4) “Trump is proposing a giant swap: Republicans can no longer count on suburban women and we will continue to lose college-educated men and women.
“While increasingly picking up working white Americans without college degrees,” said Ari Fleischer, who was a White House press secretary for President George W. Bush and who has spoken with Trump campaign advisers about their strategy for increasing turnout. “Nobody knows who will come out ahead in the swap,” he told Scherer. “That’s what the campaign will tell us.”
There is no escape for me or at least none I’m likely to take … and probably none for you. The younger people who will still be alive in 30 years? This is your fight. This is your world war. Your final battle to live in a decent nation.
If you have a conscience and you vote for it this coming election in 2020, we may survive this crisis. Maybe. If you don’t vote. If you shrug your collective shoulders and mutter “This has nothing to do with me,” you will ultimately discover that it has everything to do with you and worse, it has, even more, to do with the children who are yet unborn.
This is not a battle for today. It’s a battle to have a future worth living — for any of us still alive and for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Will the nations of the world utimately “come around”? Assuming, of course, Planet Earth doesn’t decide it no longer wants human beings living on it? Sure it will.
But historically, that could easily take a few hundred or a thousand years. If you’d like to see this country remain a place we and our descendants can live in safety and hope, do something positive. Vote. Talk to your official representatives. Clean up the garbage along the rivers and roads. Fight for clean air and water.
Decide what you want and stop brooding about how the world isn’t what you expected. The world was never what anyone expected.
For the last few days, I’ve been waking up to the realization that I’m probably going to die of heart problems. Now, being as I’m already 72 — and I recognize that I and everyone else is going to die of something eventually — this isn’t shocking or surprising. Once I finally understood that this heart thing wasn’t an attack or a disease, but a genetic problem, a lot of things made more sense.
The cardiologist was very good about explaining the nature of the problem and how in families that have it, one out of every two children will have the condition. That was when I realized the surgery I’d had was not a cure but a temporary fix.
It was (is) an interim solution, although I’m beginning to think that life is an interim solution to eternity.
How temporary? No one knows. At my age, everything — even my heart — grows slowly. It might take 20 years, by which time I could have been run down by a crazed FedEx driver or been done in by something else. Or it could be next year.
What I was told is that “So far, your heart is still pumping a reasonable amount of blood and you have an adequate number of red blood cells where they need to be. But the heart is growing. Again.” The implication was they will not repeat the surgery. The heart could last — even overgrown and thickened — decades, but the surgery might easily kill me. Or, as that old joke goes: “The surgery was a success, but the patient died.”
So I’m not going through an “Oh I’m going to die” crisis. More like doing a mental calculation about how long I’ve reasonably got. A few years? A decade? Two decades? More? No one has a measurement, so in the end, I’m still dealing with the same thing I was dealing with before: something will kill me. Probably my heart but give me a little time and who knows what else could pop up?
Given my family history, I figure cancer or heart. Both run on both sides of the family, but aside from my mother, most people on both sides also manage to live a pretty long life, DNA notwithstanding.
It was at that moment that the phone rang. It nearly jarred me right out of bed. I swear it’s louder sometimes than others and this was a really loud morning.
I’m not kidding. It was the “Death Insurance” saleswoman. Alive, not recorded.
“How are you?” she said.
“Fine,” I rasped.
“As you probably know,” she began, “the price of funeral arrangements is exorbitant. So, we are selling … ”
“No!” I choked and hung up. Gee WHIZ!
Seriously. Did I need that particular call as my first call of the week? It’s bad enough to get all this crap on television.
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