Late winter has us looking for hopeful signs; it’s fairly universal that lack of sunshine and warmth has started to take its toll (sorry S. Hemispherians, that was rude of me to ignore you and your plentiful summer sun, but poor you with your vitamin D plethora, you know what….. fuck you). So I’m saying everyone is a little bit more short with each other. The snow that was sparkling and magical in December is now a deranged white menace. We need inspiration to keep going, but for certain elements of the population, inspiration is a little bit more difficult to acquire. I like to think we have a sophisticated palate. It isn’t as easy as turning on Inspiration TV and watching Matlock. If only. Let me try to help with this, as I try to help myself, searching for the kinds of incidents that warm the heart of the true asshole. The following is a story of spring—it stems from events of that season in 2013.
Do you recall the terrible tornadoes that Oklahoma suffered through last year? Exceptionally horrible, even for tornado alley. You may remember hearing that CNN’s Wolf Blitzer (What a name, such bravado for a man that should be named Pekingese Estradiol) happily stepped over wreckage, prodding survivors to thank God for their safety. Most complied, sure in their insistence that a heavenly father decided that they were more worthy than the kids who drowned in a local school, that sort of thing. One woman even declared a miracle in the safe location of her dog. A very unself-aware group, saying things like this in the midst of others mourning unimaginable loss after that tornado. It’s what you always hear after disasters, and it’s what the news coverage salivates over. Well, Pekingese strolled up to one very sweet looking fresh-faced mom, a Rebecca Vitsmun. To complete the All-American image, she was toting a cherubic babe on her hip. Pekingese demanded the obligatory “Yes, I thank God for convincing me to take quick shelter with my 19 month old when the tornado was approaching.” She graciously hesitated and said that she was actually an atheist, but didn’t fault anyone for thanking God. A type of diplomacy from her “kind” often seen, but not appreciated, certainly an enormous level of bravery was required to say that on national television in such a setting.
Here’s the even more inspirational part. Doug Stanhope, one of the most acerbic comics working today took note of this exchange. He’s one of the truth telling stand-outs, and an heir to the sadly not with us any longer Bill Hicks. Hell, Doug Stanhope actually deserves a name like Wolf Blitzer, but I’m sure he wouldn’t have it. He recognized the true bravery that this Midwesterner exhibited. His next actions, he said, were fueled out of wanting to piss off Rebecca’s neighbors. He really wanted them to see her get a great big cardboard check delivered to her since she didn’t have supernatural friends in her corner. So Stanhope started an indegogo crowdfunding account with a goal of $50,000. They ended up raising over $126,000 for Rebecca. “Hate can make you do real nice things.” he said. And they say Rebecca moved to another state after receiving the check. I’m only sorry that I didn’t know about this when it was occurring; I tell the story because when I found this out and told others, nobody else had heard about it. It’s kind of a secular sin not to tell additional assholes out there like myself, others who are also in need of cheering.
I don’t care if people believe in God, don’t believe, it is not my concern. I heard one person say they were an Apathist. They really didn’t care either way. But when you declare miracles when you survive, or have minimal loss, and say it is his will towards others when things go badly for them, like there was a decision who to hurt…..this is just a level of callous that convinces me humans are making no progress. Here we have all the information we could want at our fingertips, wildly amazing clarity that did not exist when these belief systems began, access to all manner of philosophies, yet minds still seem to want to work the same way they did in 1215. It’s cruel, speaking this way to those who have loss, and it sure opens up a rancid thought process that those with misfortune somehow deserve it, that they brought it on themselves. And I’d advance that it certainly hinders any true connections we could have with one another, call it a form of spirituality or just the decency of providing mutual comfort to each other.
Nature is indifferent; I don’t care what you consider to be the primary mover. Magical thinking creates that bearded dude with a plan. He draws x’s and o’s on his big chalkboard in the sky. Okay, I’m taking out the Miller’s dog, their back porch, the new Honda and their 10 year old, but letting Mrs. Donovan across the street just have hay pushed into the bark of a tree (without being bent), so she will have something crazy and cool to show others after the storm.
I find enormous inspiration in bravery (like Rebecca’s) and amazing end results (hate can make you do real nice things). It’s almost enough to melt the ice that formed this season over my pericardium.
Kathleen Wallace writes out of the US Midwest and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.