Things That Vex Me
Vex is one of those good words that seems a bit old fashioned, but really is still perfectly adequate. It’s a word that I believe I recall my grandmother using, or at least I recall someone’s grandmother using it. Regardless, it’s my choice for today because it fits. I’m surrounded by things that vex me. Not vex as in what I experienced in an advanced Algebra class, but rather encounters with people that genuinely leave me scratching my head (figuratively) with the degrees of contradictions that they’re almost certainly oblivious.
For example, there was this protest last week of a bunch of folks in Seattle protesting arctic oil drilling. What makes it unique is that they were all in kayaks. Which are made from plastic. Which is made from…oil. I get it. Really I do. You don’t like oil being drilled. Good. Stop using it. Oh wait…
Or on occasion where I meet someone who is a die hard vegetarian/vegan/animal rights activist/whatever and they’re wearing leather shoes.
The list could go on. Like a guy who’s been on disability for years and will undoubtedly be one of the first people to start complaining about “Obama’s welfare state.”
The guy who complains about the federal government… and then joins the Army.
The oppressor who believes they’re the victim.
There’s more… like people who complain about paying taxes, but also complain if the road’s not fixed or the school is short on funds.
I think I’ve made my point. I could go on, but I may go from stepping on toes to stomping them. So let’s just leave it where we are.
In too many cases there seems to be glaring contradictions that are either completely unnoticed or at least completely blocked out.
Call it willful ignorance or cognitive dissonance. These are things that vex me. We all suffer from them. I’d be happy to share some of mine, but I probably haven’t noticed them either. We can’t see the forest from the trees.
I think at the core it relates back to another affliction that may be more of a culprit. It seems to me that being oblivious to an obvious contradiction may be symptomatic of a larger problem with disconnect. We’ve become too far removed from the source of too many things. Take for example the current debate on vaccinations. I think the primary reason we’re even entertaining the question is because of the effectiveness of the vaccines themselves. The fact is, most of us have never had to deal with smallpox, polio or measles simply because the vaccines work. But after a time when we stop seeing the thing we’re vaccinating against then the thing itself starts fading into mythology and mythology into conspiracy. However, if someone came up with a vaccine for say cancer? Suddenly, that changes things.
Or starts a zombie apocalypse, but I digress.
On a large scale it’s the mental distance a CEO of a large corporation may have with employees on the bottom rung. While regular connections with board members and major stock holders get regular attention, the entry level worker is largely forgotten. On a more personal level, look at what we’ve done to food. Most of us aren’t more than two generations away from people who grew most of what they ate. Now, half the people out there wouldn’t know what to do with raw ingredients if you gave it to them. So where once the growing and gathering of the food itself helped keep us healthy, now we’ve relegated that duty to someone else and when we do eat we’re not really sure what it is we’re putting in our mouths.
So it seems that the only real answer for disconnection is reconnection. The question is how. The obvious answer is to tell people to start paying more attention. But go ahead and try to tell someone who is firmly set in their beliefs that they are most certainly wrong and see how far that leads you. It’s why I don’t see any point in getting preachy. There are plenty of folks I’d love to poke my finger in their faces and tell them that they’re idiots, but I don’t really see how that will serve anyone in the long run.
So here’s my advice. Start with the premise that there’s a good chance you’re a big, fat, walking contradiction about something and then see if you can figure out what it is. Let me know what you discover.
In the meantime… live well…laugh often…love always.