I turned 47 a few weeks ago. Boy, am I getting cranky.
Now in middle age, I'm less able to suffer fools gladly (including this fool). Many things annoy me: A girl in her early 20s goes into a beer store. She buys a case of beer and lugs it back to the car. Inside the car sit two young men, bigger and stronger than she. It never occurs to either louse to get off his duff and carry the case for her.
It never occurs to younger men to open the car door when they take a girl on a date or to be gentlemanly or chivalrous in any way. Some call that "progress," and that annoys me. It annoys me that many are afraid to use the words "right" or "wrong." Many fear the words "good" and "evil."
But there is right and wrong; there is good and evil. Some people are good and some are evil. Some organizations are. Some countries are. Some political systems are.
The American political system is mostly good -- though imperfect -- whereas other political systems, such as the one in Communist Cuba, are mostly bad, though they have some good elements. Nonetheless, the fellows who founded America had better ideas than those espoused by, say, Karl Marx.
Whereas freedom and representative government have unleashed unimaginable wealth in America, our current downturn aside, Marx's ideas have failed everywhere they've been tried. In a sane world, that would be beyond debate. But the world is not sane, and some are still trying to impose their wrong-headed ideas on us -- and that annoys me.
It annoys me how ignorant many Americans are about how wealth is produced and retained -- and how it is lost. Great civilizations rise and fall. Ours rose fast. It may fall fast, too, in part because of our success. Our country is so wealthy it is able to underwrite ideas that are contrary to our continued success.
People who espouse such ideas have raised millions -- have exploited the technology innovations that our wealth has produced -- to promote policies that will undo our wealth and inhibit our innovation. The people who lead those efforts enjoy nice incomes and benefits packages -- they live in nice suburban homes and their kids go to good schools.
At the same time, such folks enjoy the luxuries our prosperity has afforded them, their ideas seek to tear down the ideas that enabled our prosperity, and that annoys me. It annoys me that parents and schools conduct elaborate graduation parties for kindergartners. A graduation from what? To what?
Shouldn't we expect our kids to produce something before showering them with accolades? Shouldn't our kids have to earn their self-esteem? We're already seeing the results of overly coddled children. Many of our young, self-centered adults have never faced criticism before -- they fall to pieces the first time their boss takes them to task. We've created a generation of young men who sit in the back of the car while their female companion lugs a case of beer.
Such people are easily misled. They willingly vote for silver-tongued politicians who promise the world to them - unaware that it is they who will pay handsomely to fund those politicians' grandiose plans. The irony of that one makes me chuckle, but it still annoys me.
It annoys me that our culture is becoming more crass and cynical by the day. I know a fine fellow -- Robert W. Dickey, general manager of KQV Radio (1410 AM) in Pittsburgh, PA -- who makes a sad observation:
"Kid," he told me, "why doesn't anyone use the term 'make love' anymore? Now people say 'have sex.' Let me tell you something, kid. Before my lovely bride of 58 years passed, I made love to her every day. I brought her her slippers. I made her dinner. I made her tea just the way she liked it ..."
Yeah, I'm 47 and getting cranky in my middle age. But nothing annoys me more than this: Why are so few people as annoyed as I?
Tom Purcell, a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. E-mail him at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.