As an anthropologist, I'm always taken aback
when people use the phrase "human nature." To anyone who has studied the world's
cultures, it sounds more than a little laughable, because there are so very few
cultural universals. What seems "perfectly natural" to a person in one place,
may be horrific to someone in another setting.
This might seem to
hold true across time divides as well, but age cohorts within a society are not
as different as you might think. Back in the 1960's, my father, who was born in
1890, was bemused by the thought that drugs, what he called "free love", and
drive-by shootings: were seen as new phenomena.
This is usually
brought home to me by the occasional reader who wonders at my being, "Such a
Pollyanna," as though that were something quaint. Yes, as a girl, I was
delighted by both the book and film versions of that story, and still am. No,
this doesn't make me a relic.
Why not? Well, didn't we just elect a
new president based upon a message of hope? Whether you or I agree or disagree
with the election results, the notion of "Positive Thinking" is as powerful
today as it was in the 1920's when Emile Coue had folks repeating, "Every day,
in every way, I am getting better and better."
There is nothing new
about cynicism either. During Dr. Coue's day, the bitter wit of the Algonquin
Round Table was very famed indeed. Unfortunately, those who feel bound to point
out the bad to all who will listen, seem to imagine that they are in some way
more perspicacious than those of us who feel equally bound to celebrate the
However, it's always a good thing to walk a mile in someone
else' shoes. In service of that idea, I'm going to complain about something. Who
knows? Perhaps, others will join me, and the powers that be will change
What's my bugaboo? I'm a baseball fan, who used to
love to watch the games with neighborhood youngsters. Used to? Well, we still
watch, but it sure is a lot less comfortable than it used to be. Why? It seems
to me that every other commercial is either for alcohol, or some erectile
dysfunction drug. To someone from another culture, it might seem that our
national pastime is dedicated to impotent drunks.
A distaste for
that probably transcends borders.
Copyright 2009 Eddy