By Glen Birbeck
I am not myself immune to the urge to jump oﬀ the merry go round, the 24/7 news cycle. To turn away from that megaphone’s constant blast of war and rumor of war and plague and political drama. I also avoid the celeb gossip which ﬂows from our media in quantities which would stupefy, were that audience prone to stupefaction. But, honestly, what’s the diﬀerence between reports of Putin making sexist remarks about the Ukrainian leader and the celeb news? Breathless headlines saying celebrity A reportedly ﬂirted with celeb B as celeb C watched. One diﬀerence is that Putin could launch thousands of warheads in my general direction. Celebrities launch news releases to keep their brand in the public eye, obnoxious but short of deadly.
Then there’s another trope of the “news”, the plea to be forgiven.
This past week saw a couple of requests for forgiveness. Each is interesting and unique. Woopie Goldberg, the comedian and actress, got a slap on the wrist from her employer. She was required to sit out two weeks of “The View”. I imagine it was with pay. Being well paid and NOT having to gab to earn it doesn’t sound that bad. Still, I couldn’t do it, I have size 17 feet. If a dainty shoe like Goldie’s could set oﬀ a “woke” land mine I wouldn’t last two steps.
She didn’t know, as she does now, that reality morphs with the passage of time. Yes she grew up in a Jewish home. Yes she grew up in Oklahoma, site of a pogrom aimed at colored people. Add to this she is intelligent and what we used to call “progressive” BUT, the “Woke” police bagged her for suggesting Jews were not a racial group. Maybe she thought they were an ethnic group. I did. We stand corrected.
The other notable person asking forgiveness had been in the business of forgiveness himself. Central to Catholicism is confession and forgiveness. Benedict XVI said his handling of the clerical sex abuse cases when he headed the Munich archdiocese was with “grievous fault”. He stopped short of admitting responsibility. I’m guessing his oﬀering is less than that needed for oﬃcial forgiveness. I forgive him.
When and if I meet god over a beer I’ll ask for the back story. I’ll also ask him/her if Jews are an ethnic or racial group. He might reply, after a few beers, “you are all a bunch of mongrel heathens” No, he won’t say that. More likely he will nod oﬀ and start snoring. A few beers on a warm afternoon, reclined on soft ﬂuﬀy clouds, the creator could be forgiven for getting drowsy. After all, he is very very old. And so am I.
I’m seventy six….I think. The arithmetic gets arthritic, bones creak, hair greys, attention wanders. I keep a “factoid” because I like its perspective. It says that a human being is designed for a life of about 35 years. It’s over designed in the way engineers will over design an appliance. make it tough enough to last twenty years and it might last ten.
The environment provided humans by nature 50,000 years ago was tough. Thirty ﬁve years is enough to sire and bear children, feed and educate them (don’t eat this plant!) and send them out into the world.
Nature gets no beneﬁt from someone who just hangs around an extra 50 years, eating from the larder without contributing much. Grandpa might go on the hunt for mastodons but only as bait. Nature doesn’t beneﬁt from geriatrics playing nine holes of golf a couple of times a week. Neither do I.
Glen, you have just proved that old people are very useful. Even in primitive times old people were important. Hunting mastadons with spears and arrows is not just about speed and strength, but about knowledge of techniques that work. There is a lot more to success in life than just “don’t eat that.”
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