Vile Bodies

Six Omens for the New Year

January 01, 2013

Multiple Pages
Six Omens for the New Year

So the apocalypse didn’t quite happen last year. It’s good news for some, but perhaps not as good as we think. This world has changed immensely in the past fifty years. Here are six signs that maybe the Mayans were more right than we know. 
1. Everyone is a bum. As late as the mid-1980s people were not slobs. Certainly there were plenty of them, especially remnants of the hippies, but by and large people were proud not to appear homeless.
People once went to auto races and baseball games dressed well. Even poor people wore cufflinks. It was not considered onerous to iron your clothes. This all sounds incredible now.

“I have no qualms with the fact that things change; I would merely like to see them begin changing for the better.”

In 1975 a man was a heathen if he didn’t wear a suit to church. By 1995 you were effete if you did. Some while ago I was in a cathedral built by my ancestor and out of an entire congregation only the priest and I wore a suit. I hear it is the same for weddings, with denim now common.
Disgraceful. It is a mark of respect to God to look your best for a service in his honor and I’m not sure I want any part of a heaven that accepts derelicts. Even Jesus bathed before heading up to Jerusalem.
2. Jesus became a Jew. Without delving into the morass of this religious and historical debate with attendant rhetoric, it may come as a surprise to anyone under fifty that for the majority of people until around 1960 Jesus Christ was not considered to be a Jew as understood today.
He was a Galilean in Judea, which meant something different to congregations. But according to almost all modern denominations he was Jewish. Whether for good or ill, this was a radical transition in thinking of the world’s Christian populations.
3. People are proud to be stupid. While the number enrolled in higher education has increased dramatically, students are more stupid than ever. Most have little to no interest in subjects outside their intended careers. This may be immaterial (though I do not concede it) in terms of Euclidean geometry or classical poetry, but it’s intolerable concerning history and politics.
Over 25% of people have not read a book the past year. They claim they don’t have time, which is odd because the typical American watches approximately five hours of television a day.
Worse, viewers consume the “History” Channel, which features programs on ghosts and UFOs, or the “Learning” Channel which has as its marquee star a morbidly obese little girl and her mentally deficient relatives. Many people would be content to trade places with imbecilic exhibitionists if it meant the same paycheck, no matter the loss of dignity.

4. Nobody keeps their word. Once I was put up for office in a district favored to be won by hard work and agreed to the commitment. Lamentably in the days before the official campaign the boundaries were redrawn from 56% in my favor to 98% against me. Young supporters advised an out but I declined. When one gives his pledge to an enterprise he doesn’t take a flyer because circumstances change. A man’s word is his word, and that’s all there is to it. Of course I lost (though by only 92%).

These days people look you straight in the eye and tell whatever lies they please. They give their word on condition of convenience. If they say they will do something it is entirely dependent no better offer or easier pathway presents itself.

Most of my life you could do business with a handshake. Today you couldn’t trust a blood oath on a stack of Bibles unless in writing fifty pages thick. It is the most shameful exhibition of adolescent behavior and these weak characters don’t even seem to notice it is to their dishonor not to be honest.

5. People forgive everything. One of the more amazing developments since around 2000 is the fathomless well of apparent forgiveness. It’s astounding. Family members forgive murderers, victims forgive their attackers, and everyone forgives everything.

Some claim this is an effect of religious fundamentalism in the nation, while others believe it stems from near-sedation levels of antidepressant medication ubiquitous throughout the land. No one has the free will to be angry anymore.

But for anyone who comes from more traditional parts of Europe it is dumbfounding to watch anyone forgive the arsonist who burned down their house because he had a bad upbringing. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

6. Everyone is afraid of being racist. I’ll forgo discussing race because it simply doesn’t matter. If you are breathing in the West today you will at some point be called a racist, with or without cause. Around 1990 this became the worst thing that could possibly happen to you.

People have wept on television before millions simply to convince audiences they are not racist. They grovel as if it is better to be a whipped dog than a marked man. They don’t give a damn about their actions as long as no one impugns their motives.

Why does anyone care what Al Sharpton or Shaneequa at the supermarket thinks about their racial beliefs? In some cases such as employment, it’s obvious; but to say most people are obsequious in order not to get fired is a canard. Most are simply indoctrinated. They would rather be raped than be racist. It wasn’t always this way. In fact, until recently it wasn’t this way. And it’s disgusting.

A friend and I have a running argument. He says all things change and we cannot linger over the past. My rejoinder is that I have no qualms with the fact that things change; I would merely like to see them begin changing for the better.

I hope to see a few more positive adjustments in the New Year to come.


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