Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Like Us or Die

 --Privacy, Schot

People can be so cold.
They'll hurt you and desert you.
Well they'll take your soul if you let them.
Oh yeah, but don't you let them 
--You've Got a Friend,
James Taylor

Killers! Murders! You liars! All of you liars!
You're only happy when you can see something die!
Why don't you kill yourself to be happy!
You and your God's country! Freedom! 
--The  Misfits (1961) 

"Who cares about your friend!
The thing we've got to think about now is
how on earth are we going to get down to earth?" 
--James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl

So many absurd tragedies pepper our lives, despite the best efforts of Joel Osteen, the massive Self Help industry, and the Tea Party et. al. to keep us on the straight and narrow. Traveling, one reads about much of this detritus littering life's highways.

Take the case of one Marvin Enoch "Buddy" Potter Jr., found guilty last Friday of two counts of first degree murder in the deaths of Billy Payne, 36, and Billie Jean Hayworth, 23 (Mr. Potter spared the life of her 6-month old son, who was found in his dead mother's arms.)

The Johnson City Press (TN) reported both victims were shot execution-style in the head. But what drove Mr. Potter do this most heinous thing? The obvious guess is, this was a crime of passion, a sad tale, oft-told. But you would be wrong.

The motivation was the "unfriending of Mr. Potter's daughter, Janelle," by the newly-deceased twosome. Well -- that'll learn them, as they say in these parts.

The story mentions Mr. Potter's "700-page VA file", but it was not only a deranged Mr. Potter who did the dastardly deed: His wife, Barbara, Janelle, and friend Jamie Curd are also facing upcoming trials for their part in the murders; It is uncertain whether they will be tried together or separately.

Clearly something is awry. We don't know how to handle our new toys. "LIKE ME!" ... it is the cry of the entitled adolescent.  Is it the ego grown too large, the pain of rejection too unbearable, that allows for such grotesque frivolity as that of Mr. Potter's band of misfits?

Where is the art of negotiation? Arbitration? From whence did this entitlement mentality arise, and where will it end? As it is on the personal, so on the national. Like me, or else.

As an aside, I saw a MacGuffies Reader at an antiques shop recently. These were early education primers which taught not only grammar but moral lessons, as well. We have grown too sophisticated for such "one-way" truths; wouldn't want to step on anyone's idea of right or wrong.

When I was a child, there were the characters Goofus and Gallant in the Highlights magazines. Goofus was the cool guy, the Jimmy Dean-to-be; Gallant was a bit staid and perhaps boring, but he did the right thing, which was the hard thing. The magazine highlighted these differences as being one of choice. Well, all that is passe now in the world of situational ethics.

We are so far estranged from the truth, we do not even know what constitutes friendship.

What I do know is, with friends like these, you don't need enemies.

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