This is a book review, not a self-depracating post…
(I wrote this post a while back, but forgot to publish it!)
I was given a book this week which, contrary to the rules, I read straight away. It was a weak moment, and it’s the holidays… And it was never going to be a long read – the subtitle is ‘The Ultimate Book of Blunders’. The longest accounts don’t tend to be more than half a page, which makes for a lot of white space, and not much mental wrestling to do mid-read 🙂
There is a good range of stuff in there, including chapters titled: ‘Plain Bad Luck’, ‘Military Mistakes’ and ‘Celebrities Say and Do the Dumbest Things’. And it’s a pretty amusing read, all in all. Perhaps we just enjoy the mishaps and misadventure of others (think of TV’s You’ve Been Framed or Total Wipeout; Blooper reels on DVDs; books like The Darwin Awards) Maybe it makes us all feel a little less silly (and appreciate that other people’s gaffes are more publicised than our own…) or a little more superior.
But it also got me thinking. And I’ll mention two things I thought. First of all, not all of the accounts are true. And yet, they (probably!) haven’t been made up by the author, but found in research conducted. This demonstrates how easy it is to perpetuate untruth. And in this day and age, one needs only to look to the internet for ‘verification’ of untruths. Even this week, reputable news companies have presented things that aren’t true – the one that tickled me was Alec Baldwin’s Saturday Night Live act as Donald Trump being published as a photo of Trump himself. There is a real responsibility to establish and propogate truth.
The second thing I was thinking about was linked to the numerous references to the mishaps of otherwise unknown individuals. Unlike the references to companies, or celebreties, snippets that relate to unknown characters often reduce an individual’s life to one event (often their untimely demise) and so give us a most unfortunate snapshot of that individual. And how often I do that in my judgments of others? That guy who cut me up at the roundabout, complete moron. I take that one incident and read into it whatever I want. I don’t consider the day they’ve had. The worries that burden them. The stresses that weigh down on them. Like the book, I simply hold up one thing as the defining reality of that individual. Perhaps some of the individuals in the book led lives of devotion and service. Perhaps they were upstanding citizens (albeit lacking common sense at a vital juncture). Perhaps their contribution to society was simply overshadowed by one lapse of sound judgment. And I wondered if my willingness to fall into a similar trap was linked in a sense to unforgiveness – a preference to judge and leave it at that, rather than to try to move beyond the judgment to the future.
Or maybe I’m just over-analysing…