You Don’t Fix a Broken Clock By Rearranging the Numbers 1,440 Times a Day

You may not be able to tell by my writing, but I do try to stay positive most of the time. My children require it. I can’t imagine a life with my daughter if, even after these scant four years, she had a dour, bitter, angry father. Would she ever smile at anything other than someone else’s misfortune? I count myself as blessed that I do not know. We laugh and we make light of injury, but we are honest, too, about unpleasant things when they come up. They come up rarely with a four year old. Most of them are still of her own making, and it is the unfortunate mark of mankind that she will eventually become collateral damage to the world’s unsavory appetites. She is still Eve, but she’s grasping the apple now, and using it to change the channel.

The only thing on TV is us. It’s all a reality show, so it’s almost silly to make the distinction and call some things sitcoms or dramas or anything else just because their stories are, ostensibly, fiction. There is no fiction, I think I once said.

I now am certain that I did.

I’m far from being the first to assert that you can tell everything you need to know about people by what they consume. “You are what you eat” is a broader metaphor than it seems. We consume each other. We vote for what we like best with applause. We are all the Emperor’s thumbs up or down at the Coliseum. And our thumbs seem forever to sentence our simple happiness to death. My daughter’s happiness is all simple, and all wonderful, and none of it is dependent upon her own perception of her cleverness among the throngs. There are only two people in the world who know how to smile like a four year old: A four year old, and the person holding her hand. It’s never long before she tells me I’m squeezing too hard.

What befuddles me most in this world is the mis-identification of anger as celebration. A happy, smiling insult leveled at some group-identified villain. The joy of the smackdown, the seeming disinterest over suffering a moral defeat by earning an unethical victory. Winning is all! I look especially at an America who wails that the rest of the world hates her, then takes joy in counting her losses, and expects her stock to rise because of it. Do you like people more who hate themselves? There is brilliance in recognizing one’s own shortcomings, yes, but there is only death in celebrating them.

I have these two kids here, and I’m trying to build them into suitable appliances for the human condition. To do this, a more cynical me would say that I have to make them as different from myself as I can, for I am a symptom of the disease. But to just make them different versions of me would be like treating Cancer by giving the patient dementia. So the better me knows that if there is a chance of making my children into something that can do some insurmountable good in the world, I must instead make myself as much like them as I can, for they are symptoms of the cure.

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