Bloganuary Day 19: Warning – today I am wearing my ‘grumpy old man’ head.
Write about something mysterious.
I’m grateful to today’s instalment of Bloganuary for providing this opportunity to have a rant, thereby further cementing my carefully cultivated image of general misanthropy.
Most thing are at least something of a mystery to me, so tI don’t feel particularly constrained about the difficulty of hitting the brief.
‘Gone With The Wind’ is not my favourite film. I’m not sure I even have just one favourite – although if I do, I’m quite sure that Oscar-laden, sweeping Civil War epic isn’t it. However, this well-known quote certainly speaks to me:
Why does it speak to me? More to the point, what does it say?
Firstly, of course, it’s just a great line – and perfectly delivered by Clark Gable. But it also encapsulates my attitude to one of the great scourges of modern life: something I don’t understand and find quite mysterious.
So my mystery subject today is this: ostentatious public displays of grief. Such as:
And, even worse:
Now, I’ve read John Donne’s poem:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
All well and good and worthy, certainly. However, I struggle to believe that a profound appreciation of 16th-century English metaphysical poetry is the primary motive of the absurd modern tendency to go and leave flowers (not to mention meaningless questions) at scenes of accidents or other tragedies that have involved people you didn’t know and never met.
Do the people who do this truly feel diminished in some way by what’s happened? Have they forgotten the bit that tells them they should never send to know for whom the bell tolls? Or send flowers, come to that.
And anyway, is ghoulishly rocking up to an accident scene with a cheap bouquet from the all-night garage – perhaps accompanied by a couple of tealights and maybe even a cuddly toy – actually helping anyone? Apart from owners of all-night garages, obviously.
Spoiler alert: sad but true – people die all the time (okay, only once each, but you know what I mean). It’s all very sad and one empathises with the friends and family of the deceased.
Before you start, I am not indifferent to – and certainly not scornful of – the pain and anguish caused by bereavement. If leaving flowers or other tributes helps friends and family to deal with their bereavement, that’s fine. My quarrel is certainly not with them. However, I feel no need or desire to extend my empathy as far as doing anything about it personally, when I know that there is nothing I could do that would actually make any meaningful or practical difference. Nor do I feel compelled to don sackcloth and ashes because someone, somewhere feels a bit down in the mouth.
And I don’t really understand why anybody else should.
I blame the media. Anything bad happens and you can bet your house on the fact that some earnest TV reporter will put on their serious face and spout a piece to camera about ‘the community struggling to come to terms with’ whatever it was. Probably also pointing out that the entire population has been offered counselling. Cut back to studio presenter who also looks suitably grave for half a second and then moves on to, it would seem, a less newsworthy item: nuclear Armageddon, say. Or a surfboarding pet parrot.
We are being conditioned to care – no, more accurately to be seen to care – about anything and everything. If we don’t very publicly wail and gnash our teeth at the slightest excuse then there must be something wrong with us and we’ll be ostracised as heartless, unfeeling bastards. It’s nothing more than moral blackmail perpetrated by the self-righteous. It’s called virtue signalling these days, isn’t it?
Look, just because I choose not to wear my heart on my sleeve, it doesn’t mean I don’t have one.
No flowers, by request.