Fun, Fun, Fun — Part Two
And don’t touch that poison squash!!!
We need to look at Purity In All Things Young as a goal, maybe, and reach for it. But we also have to take time out, always, to consider what we lose when we demand it…of others and ourselves.
Forget about whatever we might be thinking about politicians. They might be fooling us there, too, for our own good. Maybe not. What does it matter? Politics come and go; they change on a whim for most people.
Real politics for most people has to do with their stomachs, the roof over their heads, the future of their kids. You think of it in terms of anything else, the way I used to, you’re an elitist.
We think politicians and others determine our freedom and our choices, but they don’t.
“What we ordinarily mean by choice is not freedom. Choices are usually decisions motivated by pleasure and pain… You cannot plan to be happy. You can plan to exist… You are not ‘free’ to draw a square circle, to live without a head, or to stop certain reflex actions. These are not obstacles to freedom; they are the conditions of freedom. I am not free to draw a circle if perchance it should turn out to be a square circle. I am not, thank heaven, free to walk out of doors and leave my head at home. Likewise I am not free to live in any moment but this one, or to separate myself from my feelings.” — Alan Watts
Yes, Watts. Another dead white man. But, ignore all the dead white men and you’re like a Klansman ignoring all the live Black ones.
However, something else is going on here, something very important.
Because of those melancholic feelings and those anxieties — because of not being in the moment — we are driven to find means to escape, and we have a culture surrounding us, built by marketers and capitalists, designed for that express purpose. We are constantly distracted from what very well might be the true sources of a halfway decent purpose in life, and therefore our true happiness, directed towards less meaningful, often harmful activities.
To put a label on it: FUN.
It’s fun to be drunk or high or, I suppose for some, fun to be beating up the people you hate or taking a shit on the carpet of the US Senate. But only in the rarest of instances does anything like this accomplish positive goals for anyone in life.
“So long as the mind believes in the possibility of escape from what it is at this moment, there can be no freedom… It sounds as if it were the most abject fatalism to have to admit that I am what I am, and that no escape or division is possible… When I am aware of this feeling without naming it, without calling it ‘fear,’ ‘bad,’ ‘negative,’ etc., it changes instantly into something else, and life moves freely ahead.” — Watts
So, we are not talking about the “fun” of a child going to the fair on a Summer Sunday. Nor even some innocent fun of an evening family picnic. Not the truly harmless (and this can be defined) fun. But the fun which we know is harmful. The fun which causes damage. The fun which creates violence. The fun that destroys.
When I was a kid, learning to love Hope because he was the absolute image of Bugs Bunny, among other things, I was also learning to hate Plato because I thought Plato was a capitol F Fascist — which is how some others see Hope — big as I was on being a grade-A little patriot and down as Plato was on democracy.
Over time, as I read Plato more closely, and came to understand that he merely better understood the outcome of things, the very nature of things, and saw that everything was temporary, and that, from his perspective, completely built into democracy was its own doom, I understood that Plato wasn’t a Fascist but, from his perspective, a Realist.
Was Hope a part-time philanderer, a liar about his wealth, a shameless marketer? Everything is temporary. Also, everything is flawed.
Then this. Too many people don’t go into battle. Fewer and fewer all the time, even though war doesn’t go away. The mass of people have no concept what warfare is like. You cannot figure it out reading a book, watching a movie. You have to be there.
During World War II, at the height of the war, less than 10% of Americans were serving. Compare to today when fewer than half of one percent serve, and, despite the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan, we are most definitely still at war.
Think of all those men and women who, for a few minutes on the battle lines, had their lives lifted up from the war because Bob Hope put his life on the line to be there with them, day after day, year after year, unafraid, willing to serve, voluntarily, to make people laugh in person, on the front lines.