Tuesday, July 26, 2005

People Are Strange

I just finished reading the sixth Harry Potter book (a great read). While in the midst of the story, an epiphany came over me (not to worry, I’ve been immunized). However, before I impart my morsel of insight to you, allow me to catch up the uninitiated.

The main story line woven through the novels is one young Harry Potter has the uncanny ability to pick the winner in every horse race at Aqueduct, Churchill Downs, and Santa Anita simply by smelling the jockeys’ riding crops. Lord Voldemort, owner of a stable full of spirited young fillies (no, this is not a metaphor for a bordello), wishes to thwart young Mr. Potter’s predictions by soaking all riding crops in a curious admixture of three parts cod liver oil, two parts shoe polish (Oxford black, by Kiwi), six parts cherry Kool Aid, and one part phlegm from either Jimmy Hoffa or Jim Henson – the key to obtaining this final substance is finding Jim Morrison alive and well somewhere in New Jersey. As those who have already read these books know – and those who haven’t may already be guessing – the race is on between Harry’s posse to assure they reach The Lizard King (Morrison’s cute nickname from birth) first to keep the phlegm from falling into the wrong hands (that phrase says so many things on so many levels) and Voldemort’s army of acne-ridden, slack-jawed hillbillies. (As with all great literature, this is the "true meaning" of the saga – the whole wizards and witches thing is merely a metaphor. You know, kind of like how Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings books were really about Nazism and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment was really about the evils of Weight Watchers.) Now to the earth-shattering insight.

As is true in the world in which we live, evil is always united in its designs: hate the do-gooders and destroy them by any means necessary; conversely, those wishing to do good and overcome evil can hardly agree amongst themselves on what is the most appropriate dress for a black tie affair at a country club. (We all should know that it’s the white dinner jacket with black tuxedo pants and matching cummerbund and bow tie – just like James Bond.)

This dissension among the "goodies" is bred from myriad questions so many force themselves to ask before acting:

1. How evil are they? Are they so evil that you pronounce the second syllable with decided emphasis on the letter "i" and lingering on the letter "l" as if there were two of them?
2. Are there extenuating circumstances? Didn’t they save a small animal from drowning when they were younger? (Yes, so they could put it on a leash tied to a stake and shoot at it with a BB gun.)
3. Shouldn’t we give them fair warning that we’re going to attack them? Wouldn’t that be a far more humane way of going about killing them?
4. What would I do if I found myself fully wrapped in explosives with an ignition switch in my hand in the middle of a shopping area?

All of this self-reflection goes nowhere. It only weakens the collective resolve of the "good guys" and leaves an even greater opening for the opposition.

Let’s sit in on a terrorist meeting for a moment:

"OK, let’s quit the chit chat and get this meeting started. First of all, whoever’s driving a white 1972 Ford Pinto: you’re lights are on."
"Now that we have that matter out of the way, our first and only item on the agenda is our hatred for the Western civilization. Are we all agreed on that? If yes, simply nod, click your tongue twice and pull on your left ear lobe, or let out a blood-curdling scream that violently shakes your uvula."
"OK, so we’re all agreed. Let’s get on with the refreshments. Who’s turn was it to bring the fondue tonight?"

So the next time you’re watching the news (and it’s not the Fox News Channel), rather than believing the "even handed" and "impartial" views of the media concerning the lack of progress being made in the war on terror, set aside your political leanings for just a moment, and ask yourself one simple question to which you can only answer "yes" or "no": Do I enjoy allowing a group of wackos – who falsely hide behind religion – to control my safety in the world? That’s all you need to ask!

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