Friday, August 20, 2010

The Shallow End of the Philosophy Pool

Men are easy to caricature. No mistake that Homer Simpson is one of the most identified-with characters in contemporary entertainment. Yes. That’s right. Not just in cartoon format, but compared with actual people. There’s a part of us that laughs at him. The beer-swilling ignoramus whose professional and personal incompetence are the bar against which we measure manhood.

True, he’s not too sinister. Mostly his schemes are half-baked and unlikely to cause harm to anyone other than himself, but perhaps that’s the root of the problem. We’re conditioned to laugh at men. We’re conditioned to expect them to be socially and emotionally inept. Man bangs head on door? We laugh.

He’s the everyman- we’re supposed to identify with him. We’re supposed to hate our jobs and excuse our poor parenting- heck- lack of achievement because we’re men. If we all aspired to be Nelson Mandela or Bill Gates or *insert name of sporting/business/motivational guru here*, fact is, most of us would be slumped over, exhausted, failed, underachieved. If we have the lowest common denominator as our starting point, well, we all look good compared with Homer.

But we aren’t. When we accept the things we should be working on changing in our lives, or celebrate them, even. We are condoning lifestyles that are inferior to the ones we should be aiming for. If we’re parents, we’re going to be raising a generation of Barts. Kids with no respect for their fathers because, really, what’s to respect?

I’m not a woman. Can’t really comment too much on what a woman must go through at home or work or life in general. I’m guessing she’s pissed off at having to compete with men whose slovenly careless attitudes to life are accepted and expected. I suspect she’s fed up with being called a bitch for wanting to maintain order in the home or discipline in the office. Maybe she would love to crash on the couch and drink beer while watching cartoons, but she’s forced to gather her resources and keep excelling, keep surpassing what she has done before. For her, maybe, she’s only as appreciated as her last presentation, her last meal.

And we sit on our couches. We allow other men to treat women badly. We condone abusive behaviour and neglect our children. In our lack of commitment to life, we lose a dimension, becoming hand-drawn sketches of who we should be. Once that happens, it’s very hard to inflate yourself again. But worth it. We can choose to live as more responsible individuals. Stop acting like kids, and make an effort to do the things we know we should be doing.

But for all of that, one thing will never change. If you hit yourself with a hammer on the thumb, your kids will laugh.


  1. Admit it - you're the guy who's been visiting my house; that presence I've felt standing behind me in the kitchen while I'm cooking but who disappears the second I turn around to see who it is! You've figured out how to travel outside of your body and you've been coming round my house and listening to the voices in my head, haven't you?!
    You've just described exactly how I've been feeling lately.
    That said, I have to admit that my husband is one of those rare individuals whose being there enhances the lives of those around him on a variety of levels...
    Another great post, though! Love your work.

  2. @MamaMeeA: *Preen* :) Promise I wasn't a fly on the wall.... Just beating myself up through what seems to be a common experience...


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