The Lost Art of Minding Your Own Business

When I was a kid there was a cool TV show on NBC called ChiPs (California Highway Patrol), featuring patrol officers chasing criminals who usually caused spectacular crashes on the freeways of Los Angeles. I don’t know the average was, but it seemed like every crash involved at least 16 cars, all flying through the air, exploding like fireworks while officers Ponch and John rounded up the bad guys and did damage control. It was AWESOME!

Nothing we see on the real freeways these days can hold a candle to those action-packed sequences, so consequently my attention is not easily drawn to the flat tires and fender benders that so completely distract modern drivers. You’ve seen it. You’re trying to get somewhere and the freeway ahead of you suddenly goes from free flowing to an ocean of red lights and gradually to a game of creep and beep. You eventually come to the reason for the problem and it’s something extremely anti-climactic. It turns out the reason for the slowdown was not dead bodies slung all over the road or the blackening shells of burning cars, rather it was the complete inability of the drivers in the cars in front of you to simply.

It’s especially awesome when you finally get through a nasty slowdown to find that the accident or flat tire causing the issue is on the other side of the road. Every single time I encounter this phenomenon I wonder if ChiPs should be aired on every streaming service for free as a public service. Maybe if people watched a little more ChiPs they would be less interested in the mundane things that so distract them on America’s freeways.

Then again, what if we could all just mind our own business?

Traffic aside, one of the things that really frustrates me about America today is what we refer to as “Cancel Culture,” which at its heart seems to be the inability of some group of people to survive while some other group of people does something they don’t like. This might be something as simple as reading a children’s book with the word “fat” in it (see my extensive piece on that here) or something as complicated as the never-ending abortion debate (see my rant on this issue here).

To the former I say, please feel free to not read books that have words you can’t stand. There are literally millions of books to read – find one that doesn’t offend you. To the second, I will never have an abortion, nor will I ever be the cause of one. Why should I spend even a moment of my limited time on Earth trying to control what women do with their own bodies? I have better things to do. Like trim my toenails.

This brings us to what I really don’t understand about our culture. Why are we so preoccupied with what other people do, say, like, eat, etc.? To take it one step further, why can’t we just ignore things we don’t like?

When I was a kid there were very few things I liked to eat. Tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, pickles, seafood – just count me out. I don’t want those things in my mouth for any reason, no matter what they’re in. The slimy texture of a tomato made me gag, and that hasn’t changed at my half century mark. I just don’t like them. I don’t care if you eat them, in fact, here, you can have mine, but don’t be offended when I pass. I’m not offended by the existence of tomatoes, I don’t want them canceled, I just don’t want them near me unless you blend them up with some spices and turn them into salsa or spaghetti sauce.

Why can’t we all approach our likes and likes in this way?

You’re offended by the Washington Redskins’ logo (created by a Native American)? I guess you can cheer for one of the other teams with a logo that doesn’t offend you. You don’t like Aunt Jemima on your syrup? Grab yourself a nice bottle of Log Cabin. Offended by the Uncle Remus characters on Splash Mountain at Disney World? Go check out Space Mountain! J.K. Rowling just too much for you? Read C.S. Lewis. Offended by a stand-up comedian? Well, come on…that’s just ridiculous. Might as well get offended that water is wet.

We can do this all day. A quick rundown of the many arbitrary things canceled largely lead up to one person being offended and making a bunch of noise about it until some corporation’s balls fall off and they eliminate the object of offense. I love that Bill Maher has created a trophy and award for people who stand up to Cancel Culture.

There are plenty of things I don’t care for in our culture. I could do without reality TV, for example, and I find much of what passes for modern entertainment to be dull, cynical, offensive or just crass. I can cancel it by not consuming it, I don’t need to get all hot and bothered and try to stop it from existing. I just have better things to do. Also, I know how to mind my own business.

There is, of course, a larger issue at stake. I wonder what would happen if the people who work so hard to get innocuous things canceled put that energy towards something constructive. Might we have already solved one of the existential issues facing our world? Surely there must be some nobler pursuit for those energies.

For now, grab yourself a Bud Light, pour some Aunt Jemima’s syrup over a batch of Uncle Ben’s rice, settle in with your favorite Harry Potter book or fire up the VCR and watch Song of the South…or whatever floats your boat. I won’t judge, and neither should anyone else!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s