My three children, ranging in age from teens to early 20s, are (of course) “woke.” That is, they are strongly opposed to oppression, persecution, discrimination, prejudice, inequality, unfairness, and all bad things. Not that I’d prefer to have kids who favored bad things. That would be creepy. But…
Being woke also means being constantly, perpetually aware of all bad things. And “aware,” in this dad’s experience, is synonymous with “won’t shut up about.” Every night at the dinner table, for instance…
Meanwhile, it’s not like I’ve spent my day going to indoor Trump rallies without a mask, posting boogaloo boys memes on the Dark Net, and guarding statues of Stonewall Jackson with my duck gun. When the kids start making their woke arguments at the dinner table, I ask them, “Who are you arguing with?”
“We’re not arguing!” they argue. Then they contend, contentiously, “It’s important to be aware!” And when I fail to dispute that, the kids resort to the ultimate rebuttal of all parental attempts at understanding and shout, “You just don’t understand!”
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No, I don’t. After 50 years of being a reporter covering oppression, persecution, discrimination, prejudice, inequality, unfairness, and all bad things (plus the occasional bright side of life, such as the 2011 space shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral), I just don’t understand any of it. If I understood how to fix all bad things, I’d be king of the world. And if I understood the space shuttle, I’d be head of NASA… But I’m only a reporter.
What I’m mainly aware of is that bad things mostly lead to worse things, fine sentiments be damned. The road to you-know-where is paved with you-know-what.
I’m aware, all right. For one thing, I’m aware that it would be nice if the kids stopped saving the world for a minute and helped do the dishes. Although what I’m mainly aware of is that bad things mostly lead to worse things, fine sentiments be damned. The road to you-know-where is paved with you-know-what.
I’ve tried pointing out to the kids that telling everybody what good opinions you have is just telling everybody what a good opinion you have of yourself. You might as well go around saying, “My, what a delightful person I am. Oh, I’m so wonderful. Gosh, I’m swell.”
They look at me like I’m an opinionated old fart. Which I am.
So I’ve given up reasoning with the kids. Now I just tease them…
About their protests, for example. We have had protests, even out here in the backwoods of New Hampshire. Most of the protests have taken place in a nearby painfully cute little town with a fair-sized community of “sandal and candle” types. I’m not sure for whose benefit these protests are staged since the town is about as ethnically diverse as Augusta National Golf Club. Anyway, my youngest kid, who doesn’t have his driver’s license yet, wanted me to give him a ride to the protest…
“Wait a sec,” I said, “Let me grab my MAGA cap.”
He was pretty certain I was kidding, but I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t sure.
His older sisters had already left. I’d been tempted to slap a “Defund the Police” bumper sticker on their car – just to see how they’d fare with the Highway Patrol. But I restrained myself.
I have, however, proposed a “Defund the Youth” movement. I checked the Department of Justice statistics and 41% of murders and 53% of robberies are committed by youths under the age of 25.
I told the kids, “I’m donating your allowances to the Biden campaign.” (People that are Joe’s age commit… oh, I don’t know… I’m too close to Joe’s age to remember what percentage of crimes they commit, but let’s just say that you have to scroll way, way down the DoJ crime stats table until you get to “Taking Someone Else’s Walker From the Nursing Care Facility TV Room” column before a significant number shows up.)
I said to the girls, “I think it’s great that people your age have a political voice. I can remember back before 1971 when you couldn’t vote until you were 21. Then the 26th Amendment was passed, giving 18-year olds the right to vote. And you know what happened in 1972? Nixon got elected!”
I also said, “SPF 50 and guilt over white skin privilege? Just giving you a trigger warning.”
One of the girls is considering becoming a vegan. I confess I didn’t really listen to her explanation of what this has to do with being woke. But I did remind her that we live on a farm. “Here,” I said, “take these eggs and put them back in the chickens.”
Something else that has to do with being woke is the issue of LGBT rights (to which any number of other letters can be added until the kids, when they’re talking about the subject, sound like a drunk at a DUI stop trying to recite the alphabet backwards).
From what I gather LGBT (etc.) is an issue because it isn’t supposed to be an issue whether people identify as LGBT (etc.) except that some people who do identify as LGBT (etc.) take issue with this, making it an issue. Or something like that…
If I were still reasoning with the kids, I’d tell them that respect for other people combined with human decency and common courtesy should change the issue from LGBT to MYOB – Mind Your Own Business.
“I honor your truth and respect your lived experience.” (Whatever that’s supposed to mean.)
But I’m not reasoning with them anymore. Instead, what I said was, “I honor your truth and respect your lived experience.” (Whatever that’s supposed to mean.) “This is why I’ve deleted all the sexist and homophobic music on your Spotify accounts and filled your playlists with Liberace.”
And I said there will be no more pizza for dinner (with soy mozzarella for the vegan) or burgers on the grill for lunch (with Beyond Meat patties for the vegan) or English muffins for breakfast (with tahini butter for the vegan). Because these are cultural appropriations that could be hurtful and offensive to Italians, people from Hamburg, Germany, and the English.
We’re Irish… All you kids are getting is potatoes.
And the first kid who pipes up with “potatoes were culturally appropriated from the indigenous peoples of the Americas” is going to get a plate of spuds dumped right in his or her (or they’s) safe space.