Posted on Facebook earlier today:
Feeling like going off about some things…First, it’s effing 91 degrees outside, and muggy. I left Louisiana for THIS? it wasn’t this bad during the summer when I first moved here, but hey – no worries. If the glaciers melt we’ll have plenty of water to cool off with, so shaddup already about global warming, ya pansies. (channeling the average climate change deniers)
When it’s this hot, I have learned to leave the public to play with itself and huddle up in my own space. That’s what’s happening today. Still, it’s a goofy day.
Second, I ordered a pizza earlier and they let me know when the driver had left the store to make the delivery. I don’t know what route they used to get here, or maybe no route at all, but 40 minutes later a lukewarm pizza was deposited in front of my door with a knock (as per request), and the driver had evaporated into thin air. Whatever. I ate it anyway.
Third, I watched the first day of the insurrection committee, or whatever they are calling it, and that was a lot heavier than I thought it would be. Congress-people crying, police officers pounding the table during testimony. I can’t say those emotions were inappropriate or unwarranted, but I almost can’t believe that people are having to go through all of this to document what everyone with any sense already knows – the former guy incited, or at least inspired, that riot and the rioters involved had been riled up so high they were out for blood. They were not peaceful tourists, they were not patriots, they were barely civilized…spraying bear spray and stuff on people. Ugh.
I can’t be confident that justice will be served for those directly impacted after this investigation is over, in part because no matter what kind of evidence is presented some people will not believe the truth. They are the same people claiming the current President is not legitimate, and that the election of 2020 was stolen from the former guy. I don’t believe there’s a shard of truth to such a tale of woe, but if anyone would know how to steal an election it would be the GOP. Just since I’ve been of voting age, I suspect them to have done it twice so far.
Finally…Simone Biles. She is an incredible athlete, nearly flawless in her execution of seeming impossible maneuvers, and she faltered. There should be no shame in that. We forget these are very young people, no matter how much physical prowess and athleticism they display. This is not the first athlete who has said “ENOUGH!’. Serena Williams said it. Naomi Osaka said it. Now Simone Biles is saying it. We’ve actually seen several other world-class athletes in this position over the years but perhaps didn’t recognize what they were showing. It’s not just women, either, but the whole Tonya Harding and Nancy what’s-her-name debacle a few years back – that wasn’t exactly stable behavior there. There have been a couple of NFL players and even a couple of NBA players who have gone slightly off the deep end. The ticket-buying entertainment-entitled public has shown no propensity for treating its entertainers like human beings.
Whether it’s show business or sports, we demand to be entertained by a paid commodity. A paid commodity, and not a human being. I wonder if we believe these are only semi-live performances that can be edited for special effects and crowd appeal. Well, that’s not the case and the people out there running and tackling and throwing balls and flipping through the air happen to be human beings with high-level athletic talent. Not robots, not artificial intelligence creations. Really humans who bleed if cut, who hurt when muscles are strained, and who are busting their butts to do the best they can do. Asking for help should never be a cause for shame, and it should never be denied. Why athletes don’t always have mental health resources readily available baffles me.
I commented earlier, after reading an article about Kerri Strug and the recounting of her coach telling her that “we” needed to do a vault one more time, even though she was already in excruciating pain from an ankle injury. She landed the vault and crumbled to the floor. The public declared her brave, and brilliant. The U.S. did very well in gymnastics that year, but Kerri Strug’s career ended just after that performance. The injury took its toll, but she did her “duty”, so all was well. We tell military personnel they must do their duty. We push them to go far beyond their limits at times, and judge those who can’t keep us as weak, or non-motivated, lacking the courage, and worse. How and why we presume that athletes perform in the same context is bizarre. It’s that hard-wired limbic brain, I suppose, in which competition and dominance are inherent.
We, humans, crave a good battle, and we’ll find it however we can. If it’s not sports, it could be music. If it’s not music, it could be dance. If it’s not dance it could be…playing checkers. WE rarely miss the chance to compete, and to the victor go the spoils and all that. The notion that one should go beyond physical limitations is cruel The human body responds with pain to let us know that something demanded of it is beyond its limits. Sometimes we push a bit beyond, and there’s always a price to pay. In the case of professional athletes, pushing too far can be career-ending, and for Kerri Strug it definitely minimized the length of her competitive career. That seems cruel, and not in her best interest at all. Is it worth all that? Many people believe that it is.
There’s a lot of money tied up in victory. In military service and war, it’s self-evident. In things like sports or music (or playing checkers) it’s based on the entertainment demand. The more evocative a performer proves to be, the more the audience demands further emotional response. It’s pleasurable, and people are willing to pay for that. Unfortunately, in the minds of some, that means they own the performer. Naomi Osaka says, um…nope. Simone Biles says nope. Serena and even Venus Williams both said no way do you won me. There have been others as well.
My question is – why do we expect the same level of selfishness from athletes as we do from military personnel? Do we see any competition as a duel to the death, as equivalently significant? I’ve surmised that competition is hard-wired in us, but I also contend that we can simply do better. We live vicariously through entertainers – they allow us to feel what we often cannot. Maybe we need to learn how to do that ourselves? Or at least realize that our enjoyment of a performance is not worth the sacrifice of the performer.
I don’t have answers for any of this, but at least I know that I don’t. I very much wanted to see Simone Biles wipe the floor up with her competition, but not at risk of any damage or harm to her. I’m not going to be leaving nasty messages on social media about her or finding a way to leave her nasty voice messages. I’m not going to trash her on social media or in a letter to the editor, and I’m not going to denounce her because she is less than perfect. She has given me such joy in watching her seemingly impossible feats, but she broke my heart when I heard that she wondered aloud if people would still love her if she withdrew from the Olympic events. What if she broke her neck and couldn’t compete ever again? Is that the only reason people gave a damn about her? If so, there’s something way wrong with that. Way wrong.
That is all. Go back to y our previously scheduled programs or whatever. Remember everyone is not having a good day, so spare a little goodwill for those who are not.
Posted on Facebook earlier today: