Think Before You Meme


Think Before You Meme
            There’s a meme floating around Facebook lately that ruffled my feathers a bit. It went:
            “There comes a point in life when fun no longer means clubbing, drinking, or being our till 4am, or thinking about yourself!
            “Fun means Disney movies, family dinners, bedtime stories, long cuddles, a messy house, sleeping by 10pm and hearing little voices say “I love you”.
            “Becoming a parent doesn’t change you, it makes you realize that the little people that YOU created deserve the very best of your time. Repost if you get it. I hope I see this on the wall of every Mother and Father I know!”
            I generally agree with this with one major exception.
            The person who created this meme had their heart in the right place, even if their head was in Tulsa.
            Here’s why:
            My wife and I adopted our daughter when she was three days old in 2009. I did not create her; my wife did not create her.  The three of us share no DNA, unless it was with the common ancestry of Ook the Australopithici a million generations back.
            I know, I know, Homo Sapiens aren’t descended from Australopithecus, deal with it, I’m rolling…
            Did we “create” her hair color, her eye color, her eventual adult height and weight? No. Did we “create” her love of Barney the Dinosaur? Hell no. Did we “create” her smile, her sense of humor, her vocabulary? Yes, (the answer to those questions would have been “no” had we adopted a ten year old, just to point out a fact.) so in a sense the meme writer’s use of the word “created” was correct; but I will wager that was not what he/she meant.              
            Is it axiomatic to assume that if we did not create our child she does NOT deserve the very best of my time? Well, anyone who took a class in logic would say yes. Just as those posts of “Like and repost if you love Jesus” implies that if we do NOT like and repost…
            Shortly after my daughter was born Huggies had a sweepstakes – free diapers for life or some such. According to the rules from the television commercial announcing the contest, all you have to do is fertilize an egg and gestate for nine months and give birth to a baby. It was meant as a joke but it ruffled those self-same feathers as the meme did three years later.
            Being a grumpy old person, I wrote to the company and explained that I and my wife were adopting. Why were we excluded from their contest? I explained to them the millions of adopting parents they are excluding and ignoring and perhaps Pampers would treat us better.
            I received a canned email saying they understand my frustration and of course the contest was open to us and any adopting parents. The “rules” were all in fun and I was provided an official statement of rules. And indeed gestating self-created zygotes was nowhere mentioned in the rules.
            We entered. We didn’t win. Bastards…
            Months earlier, before our daughter was born but the adoption all but completed, our local K-Mart had a parking lot marked “For Expecting Mothers” just after the handicapped spots and just before the parking for the rest of us. We parked there quite a bit.
            “Should we park here,” my wife asked.
            “You are an expectant mother,” I said. Fortunately for come hapless clerk no one called us on it.
            The expecting mothers’ parking sign is no longer there. Perhaps too many fat men or elderly ladies parked there and they saw their nice gesture to pregnant women was being ignored. Unlike someone with a handicapped sticker on their Mercedes doing back flips into their store, there was a parking privilege they COULD do away with.
            Am I arguing that adoptive parents should be given special class treatment under the constitution? No. Should they be treated the same as any expecting or … (what’s the word) … arrived (?) parent? Yes, certainly.  
            I guess my point is a meme author (and anyone who shares it on FB and elsewhere) ought to think about who they might be excluding when they pontificate. I’ve done it too and so I try to be careful about such things.
            Some people might say, “Lighten up”. I expect most of the people who would roll their eyes at my perceived slight would also be the kind to sputter and fume when they are told “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. Woe to you hypocrites!  I am discussing about being more inclusive, not less.
            An imagined slight to your religion because a store clerk doesn’t identify it specifically may be your hang-up. An imagined slight to my not having a true parent/child relationship because my child was not born to me naturally is my hang-up. It may be egocentric of me to say but my hang-up seems less political and less petty; you don’t hear Pat Robertson say much about a “War on Adoption”.
            There, that’s off my chest.
            I’m thinking for the countdown to Christmas I may do reviews of the various adoptions of my favorite Christmas story – “A Christmas Carol”. More to come!
Copyright 2012 Michael G. Curry

Thankful for Television

Thankful for Television

“Thirty days of being thankful” is this month’s flavor on Facebook. Some of my friends participate, I do not. My friend Clyde has posted every day so far this month. One post caught my attention and I thought I would share it with you. It is his thoughts and he would own any copyright on it and it is reprinted here with his permission:

TV may seem a strange thing to be thankful for. It can be a huge, vapid wasteland of tawdry reality shows, mismatched programming (I still don’t see how WWE belongs on the Syfy Channel) and tepid melodramas. But the other side of TV is a blessing we take for granted. It’s the medium that let us experience as a nation and as the entire human race, in real time, the historic landing of a man on the moon. And it gave us a united strength as we shared the tragedy of Challenger, of assassination attempts, of that dark September day in 2001. When TV is bad, it is very bad…but the good found in it shines all the more for it. The Tonight Show and Mr. Carson crossed generations, gave them common ground at a time when that was the rarest thing in the world. It has made our childhood Saturday mornings a balm for the weekly growing pains of school. It has given us role models in kindly Neighborhoods of Make Believe and in marsupial Captains of the Treasure House. It has given us 5 Year Missions of futuristic space exploration that lifted our spirits after little mundane, difficult days we thought would never end. It has given us Lucys and Barts and Cosbys and MST3Ks and Big Bang Theorists who brought needed laughter into our homes on days when life gave us nothing to be amused at. If you think TV cannot be artistic as well, watch the Dr. Who episode ‘Blink’…a Hugo Award winner and the kind of taut writing I watch TV in the hopes of experiencing once a decade or less. TV is human and flawed and at times detestable; a lesser medium derived as a tertiary offshoot of theater and motion pictures. But God uses all venues to reach His children, and He has made it a hallmark to utilize the least to do the most. That is how I will always recall The Man in the Water. January 13, 1982. Air Florida Flight 90, insufficiently de-iced by ground crews during a cold snap in Washington DC, strikes a busy commuter bridge and crashes into the deadly frigid waters of the Potomac River. Six injured survivors come to the surface, clinging to wreckage and hoping for a miracle. TV showed dramatic footage of the aftermath, and I have never forgotten the day I saw it or the impact it had. Still photos showed one of the six passing the lowered lifeline from the first helicopter on the scene to his fellow survivors first. One is badly hurt and still cannot hold on, and a watching man on the shore dives in, risking the hypothermia threat of the water to finish bringing her ashore. When the helicopter went back for the 6th man, the one who had given up the lifeline for others, he was gone. Arland D. Williams, Jr. chose that moment of chaos and death to live these words, the whole television-linked world as witness: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. That is the blessing of TV.

Although I would disagree with him on a small point – TV’s coverage of 9-11 was disgraceful. True it brought us together, but only akin to how a school of fish is brought together by sharks preparing to feed.  There is an entire book in what Clyde has written, i think. Perhaps I should write it! Thank you, Clyde, for this wonderfully thought-out mini-essay on television.