What would you think if I told you I was an internationally recognized philanthropist? Or, maybe, an award-winning author? What if I described myself as a private investor or a business mentor?
And what would you think if I simply said I’m retired and I left it at that?
It’s pretty easy to put people into boxes, reacting to the first descriptors used to define their place in the world. Snap judgments are hard-wired into our survival instincts, which is a great benefit when a lion walks into the kitchen, but not quite as valuable when we’re trading factoids at a cocktail party. (Cocktail parties! Remember those? Sigh.)
Most of us add new descriptions to our social resume as we progress through life, engage with family, navigate a career and become whoever it is we plan to be when we grow up. All these new identities and new milestones provide depth and texture to us, to our personalities, and to our social capital. They make us more interesting and more complete, if we take the time to learn anything on our journeys.
And then, just as we become our most multifaceted and fully developed selves, we give up. We start talking about ourselves in the past tense, as if we’re drafting our obituaries.
I’m a former accountant.
I used to be a sales rep.
I was once a teacher.
I find it just a bit depressing. Everyone has an interesting story or two about their well-earned scars, and everyone is doing something today, yesterday, tomorrow, that forms the nucleus of a new adventure. Despite that rich tapestry, so many people I meet will announce that they’ve given up on being interesting, that all they have to offer of relevance is a job they held. Once. A long time ago.
It’s as if there’s nothing we have to offer the world other than our labor and some form of industry expertise. We are our jobs and, when we leave our jobs, we are nothing. Our only claim to relevance is an expired key card from the law firm and, maybe, a part-time gig as a “consultant.”
Perhaps it’s my own fault. I still ask people what they do and that generates a default response about how they make, or made, money. I need to get more creative about my introductory conversations. Maybe things will get more interesting if I ask…
What was your favorite trip ever?
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen face to face?
What’s the strangest answer you’ve ever received when you asked someone what they do for a living?
One of the positives with questions like these is that I’m unlikely to hear about work. That’s good, because I really don’t want to know about their jobs, or their former jobs, or why they think of themselves as has-beens. “What do you do?” turns out to be a conversation stopper, not a starter, especially when it turns into what someone doesn’t do anymore.
Asking people what they do is pretty pointless and likely to make them feel bad about their former glory. If I want better answers, I had better come up with some better questions.
The big question we’re all asking at Dad Writes is whether you’ll become a subscriber by clicking here for our weekly insights. So, whaddaya say?
Constitution Day is right around the corner, but don’t be embarrassed if this major holiday slipped your mind this year. The U.S. Constitution is like a software Terms of Service agreement; we all click ‘yes,’ but almost nobody actually reads it.
That lack of familiarity leads to some hilarious consequences. For instance, many people believe they have a Constitutional Right to shop at Costco, while others think Freedom of Speech only applies to them. Amazingly, both of these beliefs are incorrect, although you’d never know it from reading internet posts.
Never fear, though, as your humble servant has read the document in the original Aramaic and will share all the insights you need to know to become a Constitutional Scholar of the first order. For example…
The Constitution was not really all that popular among the people who framed it, several of whom were nearly mortal enemies who disagreed strongly about almost everything. The only reason we ended up with the current version is that The Articles of Confederation (the world’s first Beta 1.0 release) sucked beyond belief.
The only way the Constitution got ratified was with the promise to add amendments to it immediately. (Back in 1789, everyone was still using dial-up, so “immediately” meant a couple of years. Still, Jimmy Madison made good on the promise to write up a Bill of Rights for the states to approve.)
Speaking of the Bill of Rights, Congress sent 12 amendments to the states, but the first two were rejected. That’s why freedom of speech is in the First Amendment and not the Third. It’s also why people who love the Second Amendment aren’t obsessed with Congressional pay stubs.
The Constitution was remarkably advanced for its time, but pretty backwards by current standards. Women didn’t vote, slavery was codified, and the Electoral College gave rural states an advantage that has only grown over time. (Yes, a few people still think the Electoral College is a great idea, but they are the same dopes who put mayonnaise on their pastrami.)
The framers of the Constitution were smart, but they weren’t supreme beings. They came up with a pretty good division of powers within government and between government and citizens, but they also failed to invent indoor plumbing or I-Phones or pizza delivery. Maybe it’s time we took some of them down off their pedestals and…oh, wait, that’s actually happening, isn’t it?
The concept of judicial review, which makes the U.S. Supreme Court the final arbiter of Constitutional meaning, is not granted by the Constitution. Instead, it resulted from a brilliant political maneuver by Johnny Marshall, who handed Tom Jefferson a tiny win while grabbing a big hunk of power for the court. Smooth.
We all should be grateful for that “judicial review” thing, because it’s our primary method of legislation these days. After Congress passes 12,000-page laws that nobody has read before the vote, SCOTUS clerks are the only people who actually read the laws and figure out what they mean. And when Congress fails to take any action at all, it’s up to the courts to dig up some old laws or rulings that they can twist painfully to apply to the pending case.
Yeah, I know, lots of people think SCOTUS goes too far in legislating from the bench, but that’s only when an activist* judge rules against them. When the Supreme Court rules in their favor, those esteemed jurists are merely upholding the Constitution. (*Activist = disagrees with me.)
As we look forward to this great holiday, it’s wonderful to consider how far we have come in the 23 decades since we adopted the Constitution. Hard to believe, but back then people were actually arguing about how powerful the president should be, separation of church and state, freedom of the press, what and whom to tax, federal power versus states’ rights, and the national debt. Thankfully, we have resolved all of these issues and marched forward in unison since then.
Finally, if 34 states approve, everything is up for grabs in a new Constitutional Convention. Depending on how you count “approvals,” we might already be just 6-8 states short of that benchmark, giving today’s politicians the opportunity to reframe our most important document. Fearless forecast: The sequel will not be as good as the original.
Before you get all caught up in your Constitution Day celebrations on September 17, do your patriotic duty and subscribe to Dad Writes, as required in Article LVIII.
The first thing to understand is that nobody dies from CV-19. Nobody dies from cancer or diabetes or having a piano fall on our heads, either. We die from something putting such a substantial burden on our hearts that they stop beating, so essentially 100% of us die “from” cardiac arrest.
Still, there is always something that puts the strain on our hearts, whether it is cancer or diabetes or having CV-19 taking over our lungs. In many cases, CV-19 tips the scales fatally for someone who is already battling the effects of some other malady. And when that happens, people have a disturbing habit of blaming the victims for their own mortality.
“Well, she was only 37, but she had asthma, so that’s really what killed her.”
“After three years of dialysis, the virus was just the final nail. By that time, I suspect he really wanted to die.”
“If only he’d become a vegan, he never would have gotten cancer in the first place. If you think about it, he essentially committed suicide.”
“Remember how she kept saying it was all a hoax? Hah! Karma’s a bitch, baby.”
Yes, of course, it’s a TRUE FACT!!! All of these people were asking for it and they were ultimately happy to decrease the surplus population. Coronavirus is the real victim here, falsely blamed for killing nearly a million people who wanted/deserved to die. Kinda makes you want to take the virus into your home and give it a warm snuggle and…never mind.
It’s a deflection, of course. Whenever something goes wrong and we cannot control or prevent it, we try to find a reason that it only happens to other people. Even if we have some underlying condition—a status that applies to about 80% of people over the age of 55 and a disturbingly large percentage of people under that age—we try to convince ourselves that THEY were much more vulnerable than WE are.
That kind of deflection makes it very easy to be nonchalant about THEIR deaths, especially since most of us don’t know a person who has died from the disease. Yet. On average, if each of us was going to know one person who died of the virus at this point, we would need to have a social circle of about 2,000 people.
We’re more likely to know someone who contracted the disease and recovered, of course, but that reinforces our tendency to ascribe blame to the people who succumb. The people who survived were strong, maybe blessed, much as we are, while the people who died were weaker, less deserving, even a bit guilty.
Denial is a useful coping mechanism in times like these, but it does have its limits. When we start blaming the victims of a pandemic, we just might have gone over the line.
We never went to med school, so this review of medicine and psychology might sound just a bit too simple, but that's okay. We like to keep things as simple as possible, which is why it's so easy to subscribe by just clicking here.
After couple of months of tipping people 50% to deliver my pizza and toilet paper, I’m reconsidering the entire concept of tipping. Why am I tipping some service providers but not others, and when did a lagniappe become a requirement? For example:
Meanwhile, I’ve noticed that nobody in a position of authority chooses to work for tips. Maybe there’s a lesson here, if only I could figure out the hidden meaning.
Subscribing to Dad Writes is almost like giving me a tip, except it doesn’t cost you anything and you don’t even need to enjoy the experience in order to do it. Just click here to sign up and I will feel fully compensated.
Now that pretty much every state is reopening in some way, it’s time for a refresher course on why we should all be dead already. Just in case you were excited about finally getting out of the house…
And don’t get me started on the people who let their dogs lick their hands and faces and then say, “Their mouths are cleaner than ours.” First, it’s not true and, second, even if it was, did you see what they were licking before they licked you? Stop it. Now.
Helpful hints like this are yours at no charge, because you wouldn’t pay anything for them anyway, if only you’ll click here to subscribe to Dad Writes.
Entering the danger zone with a bit of humor about senses of humor, praising a nation of the faithful, and the only thing that’s preventing me from being ridiculously rich this week:
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.