“I hate to say it, but I think a default posture of human beings is fear,” said writer Marilynne Robinson a few years ago. “What it comes down to—and I think this has become prominent in our culture recently—is that fear is an excuse. ‘I would like to have done something, but of course I couldn’t.’ … Fear has, in this moment, a respectability I’ve never seen in my life.”
The other day a pal said he was “dumbfounded” by the types of bonehead errors made by his hometown baseball team, even though many major league players haven’t really had their heads in the game since Braves left Milwaukee.
For five straight years, we’ve heard folks making proud vows of ignorance: “I will never understand” how anyone could have voted for a guy like that.
On the sunny side of life, we’ve got geeks perpetually telling us how they are “amazed” at their “amazing” employers, colleagues, friends, neighbors, spouses, children, pets and Realtors.
Mystified, shocked, baffled, disappointed, dismayed and perpetually gobsmacked. If a football player acts like that, they put him in the concussion protocol. If an American acts like that, they send him right back into the game.
Does it ever occur to Americans, anymore, that adult-onset perplexity should be self-treated by a sober investigation of the question? Gee, why do ballplayers constantly miss the cut-off man now when they never seemed to in the eighties, when we were kids? Why don’t country singers play prison concerts anymore (or sing trucker songs)? How could someone vote for a guy like that? And if you’re amazed by your spouse every single day, is it possible you have dementia?
Americans’ enthusiastic pride in their own lack of curiosity: It will never cease to amaze me.