Correcting Your Behavior Since 2017

Let's Try This Again

Well, readers, my usual resolve to avoid addressing current events and politics is back to feeling a bit shaky this week. Trust me, I’ve no wish to ever position myself as a pundit. Lord knows, we have 337 too many of those. But where I see people not being good at thinking, I feel obliged to help them with some much-needed logic and snark. It's my calling.

So let’s all grab a juice box and a blankie and gather around Uncle Curmudgeon while I get out the nice colorful book with lots of pictures and not too many big words and review this so everyone can understand. Maybe. Finally.

Jane’s car got stolen. “This is terrible,” said Jane. “I need my car to get to work.” “We all need our cars to get to work,” scoffed Dick. “Why is your car more important than mine?” “Mine isn’t more important, Dick. It’s missing,” explained Jane, incredulously. “Well mine has a scratch,” said Dick, “We all have problems.”

Archibald went to the dentist. “It’s this tooth on the upper left side,” he complained. “It hurts.” “What about the others?” asked Deidre the Dentist, “They’re important too, you know.” “Oh, I know,” said Archibald, “but there’s only one that hurts. Also, just checking: you are a licensed dentist, aren’t you?”

Manfred wanted to cook his famous chef's surprise for his friend Brenda, but was out of coriander which, as everyone knows, is a crucial ingredient in Manfred's chef's surprise. So he asked Brenda to go pick some up. “What about the other ingredients?” balked Brenda. “What about the sardines, the tahini, the persimmons, the—” “Yes . . . well . . . I already have those,” said Manfred. “So then why am I going to the store for coriander?” asked the none-too-bright Brenda. “Because,” said the exasperated Manfred, “That's what's missing.”

Some of you advanced kids know where I’m going with this one. Black lives matter. They do. The statement should just sit there unchallenged. Who would question such a thing? And yet, this has somehow become a point of contention. Even more strange, it’s somehow become political. And Uncle Curmudgeon is ready to tear out his remaining hair.

You see, kids, there are some who, upon hearing “black lives matter,” respond by reminding us that “all lives matter.” “All lives matter” is also a true statement. No one says it isn’t. What it isn’t is a necessary statement, and that’s the whole point. “Black lives matter” is a reminder of something very important that some people have forgotten.

Far from seeking to emphasize the value of one group of lives over another, "black lives matter" seeks to do the very opposite; it seeks to correct a disproportionate emphasis on the value of one group of lives over another. Because currently, our country is behaving as if white lives have far more value than black lives. And children, that's wrong.

We who recognize the situation have tried many analogies to explain to those who don’t. We’ve tried the house on fire analogy. We’ve tried Jesus and the one lost sheep. We’re running low on analogies.

Let me try it this way: While, yes, of course, all lives matter, there are certain people whose lives are being treated as if they don’t matter. That’s why we’re trying to remind you about them. When wrongful deaths at the hands of police go uninvestigated or uncharged, or when those charges are consistently dismissed, it undervalues the life that was wrongfully ended. Too complicated? OK. Let’s try this. People have been going into the forest and shooting one particular kind of bird—let’s say a Mudheaded Mameswackle. It’s becoming a problem, because we’re now almost out of Mudheaded Mameswackles. And so a group of concerned bird lovers try to bring the issue to the public’s attention with signs urging, “Don’t let the Mudheaded Mameswackle become extinct.” And some respond, “We don’t want any bird to become extinct.” Well, sure. But right now it’s just the Mameswackle that’s in danger of extinction. But meanwhile, the “all birds matter” people have diluted the attention from the real problem, thereby perpetuating it. See? And what happens? Nothing changes. And that’s bad news for the Mudheaded Mameswackle.

Every time someone says “all lives matter” (thereby stating the obvious and diverting attention from a real issue), that person has added to the exact problem we’re trying to address: Black Americans get harassed, brutalized, and killed by police officers, and the system responds as if there isn’t an emergency situation—as if our black brethren are not being treated differently. But they are.

And so, we all need to say it. We all need to keep saying it. And if it comes to it, we may need to say it with puppets.

Well, this has been fun, hasn’t it? I’m sure that for some, this amount of learning is quite exhausting. So now let’s spread those blankies on the floor and have our nap time, OK kiddies? And when we wake up, we’ll resolve never to question, qualify, object to, or dilute “black lives matter” again. I’ll explain those big words later. Just don’t say “all lives matter.” You’re not helping. In fact, you’re endangering people.

Anyone need another juice box?