Polite Conversation 101

Somewhere in Washington, D.C. in the labyrinth of congressional offices there lurks a nearly unknown congressman.  Unknown because he carefully avoids high profile or controversial issues.  A veritable deaf-mute when it comes to voicing his opinion on vital matters.  Considering the herd of loud-mouth miscreants with whom he shares those hallowed halls, you might even call him a breath of fresh air.  And his name shall remain unspoken here, for this isn’t about him.  When it all comes down to dust this public servant who appears to possess few personal opinions will be remembered for one sentence.  A sentence so insightful and thought provoking that it will likely grace his headstone:  “You have the right as an American to be dumb.”

In the America I call home, this sentence should be slightly expanded to:  “You have the right and duty as an American to be dumb.”

Those of us who consider ourselves internationalists, socialists, anti-corporatists, and anti-war activists are a small but sometimes extremely vocal segment of the population.  We believe that we understand a lot of facts which we’re often overly anxious to share with our friends and neighbors.  Sometimes we alienate those who we care about most.  It is so easy to break the number one commandment of polite conversation.  You know.  The one about NEVER wading into the murky waters of politics and religion in mixed company.  NEVER!

I’m a US citizen by accident of birth.  No more, no less.  I don’t wave Old Glory,  don’t stand with my hand over my heart for the pledge of allegiance, nor do I get a lump in my throat when The Star Spangled Banner is sung.  I don’t vote in sham national elections, don’t thank military people for their “service”, and don’t watch corporate news except to see what earth’s enemies on Wall Street and in The Pentagon are up to.

Friends and acquaintances often criticize my negativity, but when challenged, can never seem to offer me a single reason to be positive here in the so-called land of the free and home of the brave.  I believe in a completely different kind of American exceptionalism than what our politicians like to blather about.  Americans as I see them are exceptionally violent, self-righteous, and well…dumb.  But Americans have the right to be dumb.

Sorry Americans, but I gotta tell it the way I see it.  Most of you fit one of the two basic definitions of “dumb”.  You’re either silent, uncommunicative, and mum…or brainless, ignorant, unintelligent.  The rest of you just don’t seem to care about what’s going on in the world.  To use Paul Craig Thomas’ favorite word:  Insouciant.

It’s not your fault.  You’ve been trained by your owners, and they don’t want you to worry your pretty little heads about anything of any importance.  Leave that to your elected officials and the guys with pointy hats or beanies in your houses of worship.  They’ll be glad to tell you what to think.  What to believe in.  Tune in to your favorite reality show, share some cute kitty videos on facebook, and learn to hate whatever boogeymen the national news instructs you to hate.  Above all do not think about or discuss any issues of importance with your friends and neighbors.

When George Carlin died, he left a hole in my heart.  His insights into the American condition were unparalleled and invariably hit their targets dead center.  Spend a couple hours listening to his later routines and you’ll glean just about everything of any importance that there is to know about American culture. “I do this real moron thing,”  he said, “it’s called thinking, and I’m not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions.”  And he liked to share them.

I like to share my opinions too.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be working my fingers to the bone writing this crap.  I like to discuss the important stuff in social situations too.  If there had been a class called Polite Conversation 101, I would have flunked out.  Probably sent to the Principal’s Office for a severe tongue-lashing and a good paddling.

I belong to a social group.  I was surprised they let me join, but they did.  The group even has a name, but I’ll keep it to myself for the protection of the other members.  If I kept a congressman anonymous, it’s the least I can do for my friends.  Last time we got together it seemed like something was different.  My wife and I had been away for several months, and something told me that the group might have been discussing us in our absence.  Early in the evening, the spokesperson for the group took me aside and told me:  “We’ve all decided that from now on we won’t discuss politics or religion.”  That was it.  My sails were void of wind.  From that moment forward there would be no serious discussions in the group.  Visions of meaningless conversations were overwhelming.  My mind reeled.  I thought I might faint.

Bullshit.  Damn the rules and regulations.  Screw Polite Conversation 101.  Full speed ahead.  Rules were meant to be broken.  Besides I make the rules for my own mouth.  For what I think, say, write.  I will not be silent.  And if I lose friends over my loud and unruly mouth so be it.  As my best deceased friend George Carlin said:  “One good reason to maintain a small circle of friends is that three out of four murders are committed by people who know the victim”.  I’ll risk losing the next hand and play into those odds.

John R. Hall, having finally realized that no human being in possession of normal perception has a snowball's chance in hell of changing the course of earth's ongoing trophic avalanche, now studies sorcery with the naguals don Juan Matus and don Carlos Castaneda in the second attention. If you're patient, you might just catch him at his new email address, but if his assemblage point happens to be displaced, it could take a while. That address is: drachman2358@outlook.com Read other articles by John R..