How often have you wandered into a bakery and searched for a subtle, beautiful cake, only to find a forest of monstrosities slathered with what looks like spackle and alien ejaculate? And they taste like a wet sponge because we've banned sugar because one child got hyper and Mrs. Smith can't have little Billy going to bed after 7, God fobid! Or gone into a clothing store to find a simple black shirt and all you're presented with all plaid jumpers and neon green clam-diggers, because Mr. Roberts only wants the store to carry clothing from companies who use all organic wool, woven by one Lituanian woman working at a loom deep in the mountains?
We are in a world that is so chaotic that even the simple things are becoming complicated. We can't just buy a TV anymore, we must research the 72 million options and wade through a sea of equally enamored and pissed-off consumer reviews. We can't get out kids Lay's Potato Chips anymore, we have to search through four stores to get them the ones that are organic, hydrogenated, pasteurised, semi-vegan potato sticks with a kale dipping sauce.
We have become a society of micro-managers without an ounce of objective thought. We listen to studies presented by newscasters who get their research from the internet which is home to absent-minded Star Trek fans and neurotic bloggers, yours truly included. The last thing in the world I want is to have some newscaster quoting a nut like me. We have lost the thread of thinking for ourselves. We wheedle our neighbors, friends, and relatives into helping us making decisions about what to buy, what to wear, and how to raise children, pets, and gardens.
Just today I was on the Almighty Mothership of Amazon and decided to look for a video I adored watching as a child, a documentary called In Search of Dr. Seuss, starring Andrea Martin, Kathy Najimy, and the late great Robin Williams and Eileen Brennan. The movie is an even-handed, entertaining look at the life of Dr. Seuss, for parents and children alike. As I often do, after looking at the overall stars reviewers have awarded it, I start at the bottom: the one-star reviews. The one-star reviews fall into three camps: the people who dislike the item in question and have a reasoned critique as to why, the confused people who title their blogs with "DON'T BUY THE BLU-RAY" or "I DIDN'T KNOW THIS WAS LARGE PRINT," and the people who have missed the point entirely. As I descended into the depths of the Seuss DVD, this review instantly caught my eye, mostly because my eyes were popping out of my sockets and were pressed against the screen of my laptop:
After I went outside to make sure the world hadn't turned upside down, I tried to find some reason in this diatribe. Yes, the documentary includes Nazi imagery for about twenty seconds. nothing graphic mind you, to explain that Seuss drew propaganda for American newspapers against Hitler (one of which is the featured image for this article.) It is a very enlightening and inspiring thing and most certainly warrants inclusion in this documentary. This woman willfully and consciously not only deprived her own children of this learning experience, but also had it removed from her local library so other potential viewers couldn't.
The fact is that children, like any living being, will learn about the horrors of the past sooner or later. You can't protect your child from the images of Hitler and Osama Bin Laden forever, nor should you. The sooner children learn of the evils of the past, the sooner they can choose to live for the good in life. Shielding anyone from the truth is simply evading reality. There are certainly exceptions, like porn and extremely violent imagery, but most history is not either of those. Who knows, maybe a child seeing that segment of the documentary might, at that moment, decide he might one day be a political cartoonist? Maybe he'll decide he wants to read more about The Holocaust? A true parent wouldn't give their child The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich, they'd find a book for children on the subject. The moment in the Seuss biography would have been a perfect moment to have a frank and honest discussion of what that exactly was.
If we don't stop stressing about every little detail of life, we're going to go more insane than we already are. With schools that are filled with oppressive, petty rules, it's no wonder that teenagers are showing signs of depression and anxiety at earlier and earlier ages. A bra strap should not make a middle-aged principal nervous. A boy wearing lipstick isn't a reason to expell him. Facial hair is an unfortunate fact of life, but it is not shameful, and all hair for that matter. Workplaces are the same way. It is as if we have become children ourselves, shrieking at any sign of something that even mildly upsets us.
We've become a society where, instead of facing the true issues, we focus on the piddly details. You need only look at the state of our political system to see the chaos this type of mindset can create.
To combat this, we must face each new day with an open mind, a willing ear, and a firm foundation of who we are and what we believe. We need to make firm decisions, fix what needs fixing, and ignore whether Sharon in accounting is wearing the wrong color of pantyhose. Life is best lived with an open mind.
Or in the words of that deviant Dr. Seuss himself: “You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”