Popular opinion is stupid…

America has a long history of rushing to judgment atop a wave of “popular” opinion. 

Witness the fiasco of NASCAR leading the charge against person or persons unknown who allegedly hung a noose in the pit area. There was a popular outcry, a swift investigation by the nation’s premier law enforcement agency, a hue and cry from talking heads across the spectrum that racism in that business must be plucked root and stem. Of course it turned out to be nothing more than a knot in a rope pull that had been there for at least a year. It was the very definition of nothing to see here, but it was hopped on by the professional and social media as the great scourge of the age. Talk about a lie getting, ‘round the world before the truth manages to get out of bed. 

At least we’re behaving true to form. Far better to commit to a spectacular, emotional response up front and early than to take the time to do the work of evaluating what’s really happening and decide on a practical, dispassionate response. 

It seems that if left to our own devices, we have a collective tendency to see enemies under ever bed – and respond in an emotional furor. As far back as the late 1600s, we were committed to knee-jerk reactions under pressure from the mob. Back there and back then something on the order of twenty men and women (and several dogs, if memory serves) were executed for practicing witchcraft. 

In the 1950s we were fond of seeing Reds around every corner. The coercive power of and individual destruction wrought by the House Un-American Activities Committee still stands as a testament to the utterly misguided means deployed when emotion, rather than logic serves as the basis of action. 

Here we are in 2020 once again revisiting past practice and seeing perceived evil at every turn. Because emotion is running at a fever pitch – drummed up by those who benefit most from chaos – we revert to a form older even than our republic. Then again, tearing down has always been easier than building – and the emotion of the mob will always be more appealing than putting in the dispassionate effort to determined how to get there from here.

We’ve been at it now for over three centuries later, for all our advancement, I sometimes wonder if we’ve really learned a damned thing.

Untied…

It occurred to me this morning that there’s probably a deep psychological reason I’m so adamantly opposed to wearing a tie. Sure, I could give you the usual song and dance about them being constrictive and uncomfortable or about them serving absolutely no purpose in the modern world, but deep down I don’t think that’s the reason at all… even though those are all perfectly valid issues with the standard necktie.

1288298661684133102The real problem with these damned decorative bits of fabric is that I never wear them on good days. I pull one off the rack for funerals, court appearance, work, and weddings – for good or ill, those aren’t what I consider the red letter days of my life. Those days are largely depressing and/or expensive hassles in which I’d probably rather not participate. In my near 40-year life, ties always come out for the pain-in-the-ass times.

The good times are marked with jeans, tee shirts, shorts, and muddy boots. They’re ratty clothes covered in dog hair and smelling of wood smoke or of diesel fumes and salt spray after a long day on the water. Never once on one of these good days did I sit back quietly and think to myself, “Wow, this day would have been so much better if I had on a tie!” On the other hand, nearly every time I’ve ever put on a tie, I know the day would have been better if I was somewhere else, wearing something different.

So there it is in a nutshell, my basic belief that ties aren’t just a pointless throwback noose we’re supposed to willingly put our necks into every morning. In fact, they’re basically nothing more than a visual cue that you’re about to experience a wasted day.

Thanks for stopping by tonight. This has been one of those occasional posts I make to give you a little insight into what’s churning around in my head while I’m standing quietly off to the side of the room observing the world around me.