Sitting over here on my pretty Danish perch, watching headline after headline unfurl across my television and computer screens, I have come to conclusion that the US is suffering from a bad case of The Ironies.
Maybe there’s has always been a low-grade ironic fever simmering just below the surface. When you have a country as vast, as diverse, as divided as the United States, there’s always going to be a bit of irony floating about. But this latest outbreak, a few decades–if not centuries– in the making, is threatening to reach epidemic proportions. It’s going to take a lot of work to keep it in check if the country wants to avoid a full-scale quarantine. A breath of fresh air and a hearty dose of common sense is a good place to start, but those measures may no longer be enough to contain the problem. Before any of that though, there needs to be some accountability. Just like a twelve step program, the country needs to recognize it has an irony problem.
Hello, I am the United States of America and I have an irony issue.
In Florida, a seven year -old boy walks by himself to the park. In Arizona, a nine year-old accidentally shoots and kills her instructor while he is teaching her how to shoot an Uzi. The mother of the seven year-old is arrested. There is something terribly upside down about a society that questions the safety of a seven year old going to the park but not a nine year old learning how to shoot a weapon designed by the Israeli military. It’s almost like a death row pardon, two minutes too late
You can’t escape a certain loud and well-funded segment of the US who campaign tirelessly to keep the government out of their personal business. Less government, more personal responsibility. Unless of course you’re talking about the reproductive rights of 51% of the population. Then there is clamoring for the government to step in with both booted feet. It’s almost like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife
Back in June, The Supreme Court decided that a privately held corporation could hold religious views. The Hobby Lobby is now able to play pick n mix with the law by restricting access to birth control for its employees. But wait. The personal belief system of this particular corporation extends only to its female employees. IUDS, which prevent pregnancy, are no longer covered. Vasectomies, which also prevent pregnancies, are a-ok. It’s almost like meeting the man of your dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife
When there is more vitriol over whether or not a school should be peanut free than there is about whether a Big Box store should be gun free, then you have to scratch your head and wonder. It’s almost like a free ride when you’re already there
When you are bombarded with movies and video games which regularly feature big busted women, often almost caricature like in their buxomness, yet a woman nursing her baby in public is still found offensive, you have to wonder what is going on. It’s almost like a black fly in your Chardonnay
When things have gotten so out of hand that folks can’t tell the difference between real headlines and satirical ones, when Facebook is toying with using a ‘satire’ tag, when things are so confused and befuddled that you read a headline and have to do a double take to see where it comes from, well then, you know the irony levels are off the charts. It’s like rain on your wedding day
Isn’t it ironic, doncha think?
A little too ironic, yeah I really do think.
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Stephen Hall http://www.stephenhallart.com 55 Bethune Street, Suite C320 New York, NY 10014 646-963-3306
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Or the world is in an uproar because the Copenhagen Zoo killed one giraffe, but it’s perfectly okay to murder millions of babies every year.
I’m not quite sure how to read this, but I thought it only fair to publish the comment. I will agree with you in the sense that I think the needs of millions of children who are living in poverty should arouse more anger than the euthanizing of a zoo animal (however painful that was for animal lovers). I don’t think I’ve misread your intentions, but if I have, I apologize.
Not 100% the same sentiment but close enough. I am an American as well, that spent some time living in Denmark. It saddens me that children are starving; are forced into being sex slaves; are beaten and abused; and millions more aborted every year. Yet the hot news in the US some months ago was that a giraffe was killed. So what? At least the meat wasn’t thrown away, it was fed to lions.
Another one that’s definetely a first world problem is the uproar over GMO produced foods. I bet the starving children doesn’t care where that food comes from. There is no reputable scientific proof that GMO’s will harm you. In fact, most American’s have taken drugs produced by a GMO in order to save their life.
While MTM says that living overseas has his challenges, he and I are determined to do it. I’m so fed up with so, so many things here, and I feel helpless to change anything. Voting doesn’t help. Getting more involved in causes doesn’t help. The only thing that “helps” is giving money to candidates who don’t need it (I’m being ironic. Or sarcastic. I don’t know which.)
I saw the article about the child and the gun, and I cannot even fathom how that happened. When I did my Natchez Trace walk, I don’t even want to tell you how many people asked my husband, “You’re gonna let her do that?” Like it would be totally fine for him to NOT LET me. Our nation is all about fear: fear of people who are different; fear of dangers lurking around the next bend; fear of experiences that may make us better people; fear of what might happen if we stopped spending eleventy billion dollars on bombs and tanks and started spending it on teaching our kids to be functional adults who might get to grow up and live with an infrastructure that isn’t crumbling.
However, I’m going to take this conversation is a more positive direction, because I’m ranting. MTM and I are likely to be in Europe two times this fall. Paris in November. Possibly (I have every appendage crossed) Oslo in December. If it works out that you can put yourself on one of Europe’s incredible, functioning trains or ferries, I’d love to meet you and give you a hug. (Or, maybe Oslo will work out to be Copenhagen. We’re trying to compute our miles/dollars needed to spend for the year and reach those targets.)
Andra, please let me know if you make it to Copenhagen, I would love to not only receive (and return) a hug, but to attend any event you are speaking at. As for your comments about living in a culture of fear, you have hit the nail squarely on the head. Everything from the militarization of police forces, to the infantilization of children to curfews for urban populations screams fear. And it saddens me to no end that the answer you get is to escalate the violence in the name of protection. I love the US. I love its grandeur and its hope. I love its freedom and its dreams. I would hate to see all of those amazing things lost because of fear.
So good, Dina. Sometimes it’s like being the only sober person at a party.
Oh Cherry, I’m not sure I’ve ever been that person…. But it is interesting to me how much this piece seemed to resonate with my non-American readers and friends. One of things I like most about living outside the US is being able to look at it from the outside in–at the good and the bad.
Alas, the whole world suffers from irony, not just the US.
Leila, you speak no more than the truth. I guess as an American I feel much more invested in the policies of my homeland than I do of other nations/cultures, not to mention I wouldn’t feel right about doing so.
Have I told you lately that I love you? Well I do, and this post is why.
It’s always nice to hear you’re loved ;-). Thank you.
Well, to be fair, Alanis Morissette is Canadian.
Perhaps the biggest irony of all….
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Thank you, Elyse.