Friday, September 29, 2006

The Need to be Cool

It seems that there is an innate need in the human being to be fashionable, to be cool, to be on the cutting edge, to be “with it,” to be part of the “in crowd.” Even when I was a child in Munster, Indiana back in the 1950’s, the big thing was always to be “cool.” We had our Elvis pork-chop sideburns and wavy hair, our blue jeans, and our Mickey Mantle. I think it’s always been that way. I believe that the cavemen probably had the coolest clubs and axes. The barbarians had the coolest scars on their arms. Eighteenth-century men thought snuff was cool. In my Dad’s generation it was cool to be patriotic and to smoke. In the 60’s it was cool to wear long hair, smoke pot, and use lava lamps.

Watch any fashion show, with a know-it-all fashion commentator, and you get an idea of what an appeal to the coolness-need looks and sounds like. This year browns are in, and miniskirts are back, and high heels are more spiky, and on and on and on. It’s a bunch of cow dung.

I have a problem sometimes of misanthropy. I wonder at the flaws of human nature, and ask why did God make us this way? I shrink from our dark side, our pettiness, our greed, our viciousness, myself included, oh yes. Why? Why did God do this to us? We are such noble creatures on the one hand, and such cruel animals on the other. I have to catch myself when I get to thinking this way and submit to the Almighty. God is bigger and wiser than I. The universe has a plan, and all this is a part of it. Here I agree with Wayne Dyer and say that things are this way for a reason. It’s all good. So, I accept it.

One of the things I don’t like about us, we humans, is our need to be cool. I’ve never worried about being cool myself. I’ve always thought it was cool just to do the right thing. I never worried about being fashionable. This is probably a fault of mine to some extent, since fashion will affect how others perceive you. On the other hand, I’ve seen humans do some pretty silly things in order to be cool—like wear baggy pants, like “sagging,” like rings in their ears and “bling,” and body piercings and tattoos all over their bodies, and Leisure Suits.

I won’t analyze what’s cool now, except in politics. To a certain extent, it’s cool to be a liberal, and uncool to be conservative. Clinton was cool when he played the saxophone on David Letterman. Bush was cool when he flew an airplane onto an aircraft carrier. Al Gore is cool again because of global warming. Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert are cool in politics, as are all the late-night talk-show hosts, Letterman, Leno and O’Brien.

The Democrats have made a conscious effort to be cool. Bush bashing is cool. Appealing to the MTV crowd is cool. Hollywood, they think, is cool. The liberals have made it uncool to be Republican in a lot of places, especially in areas like California and Massachusetts. It’s uncool to be Republican in Hollywood.

So, does being cool give Democrats an advantage? Yes, and no.

Being cool might get the Democrats more votes. On the other hand, in my opinion, it takes their focus away from the issues, and from the things that are really important. Since Bush-bashing, for example, is cool, then the masses of liberals will reject anything and everything that Bush says or does. This will include all of Bush’s good ideas and projects too. Take Social Security reform. The Democrats reject S.S. reform even though it will mean more money in the pockets of their constituents. I can’t understand liberal logic on this issue, except that they imagine that the uncool Bush must have a sinister motive in mind when proposing anything. The greedy, uncool Republicans must be trying to screw us, right?

I can’t reform human nature. I wish we didn’t have the need-to-be-cool gene, but we do. I hope we fight it, though. I hope, for mankind’s sake, that we allow ourselves to be uncool in the name of truth and justice and all that is right. I’d like for us to one day think it’s cool again to stand up for liberty and justice for all; to fight our common enemies, like the terrorists; and to continue to elect uncool people who, despite being uncool, are good, honest, decent, courageous people, like George W. Bush, about the uncoolest dude in the universe.

I think truth and doing the right things are cool.


(*Wikipedia is always my source unless indicated.)

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