It’s graduation time: students from preschool to high school are transitioning to something new, exciting, worrisome, just to name some of the host of emotions. I remember feeling both relieved and benumbed by the surreality of no longer having to contend with the complex and, to me at least, socially terrifying juggernaut that was public school.
I watched my youngest son graduate from middle school. I noticed there were a group of students who received wild cheers, like they were returning victorious heroes or some shit, and mostly this behavior irritated me. My irritation soon gave way to thoughts of how proud my mom would’ve been of her grandsons, but she’s dead instead. It was one hell of a sucker punch. I kept the sobbing back just long enough to get out of there.
A good friend of mine also noticed this phenomenon of greater applause for some, but the experience triggered an epiphany for him. The thought occurred that the withholding of applause (or love, resources, protection, food, whatever) for “me and mine” is one of the reasons our culture is so diseased (if you don’t think it is, I doubt you’ve been paying much attention.) He then made it a point to clap and yell as much for every student as he did for his own. Perhaps this changes nothing, right? We’re talking about applause after all, but if we apply the same principle to things other than just applause and treat all people as we would our beloved (and this is where it starts getting difficult for me), then perhaps we could help more than hinder.
I have a gnawing misanthropy, which seems to be growing more savage as I age. I try to give people basic respect, at least until they piss me off. When my friend spoke of his experience, it resonated so strongly with me, I actually felt my total disgust with most humans receding.
Yet, as I sit here writing what I hoped would be an optimistic and possibly even lightweight inspirational piece, I can’t shake 47 years (fuck I’m getting old) of experience. That’s why “Shoot, Knife, Strangle, Beat, and Crucify” is in my liked songs list and “Age of Aquarius” or whatever the fuck is not.
Try, I guess, and so will I, to be brotherly or sisterly. Believe me, I know not everyone deserves it. But, then again, who are we to judge anyway?