As we approach the season to be jolly, I like to think I can dispel the negative thoughts and stresses accompanying it and generate, in their place, kind visions of peace on earth and goodwill towards men, women and, if pushed, high-stress tourists.
As a start, I resolve to be not just jolly, but jovial, jocular, joyful, jubilant, merry, mirthful, and just plain happy. I might be even more things next year if Santa brings me a thesaurus this year. But for the impending holidays, I will embody the spirit of goodwill and holiday cheer. If I practice hard enough, my eyes may even twinkle, my voice ho, ho, ho.
To accomplish such a feat of uncharacteristic jocularity, there are just a few things I have to get off my chest, "issues" to work through as those in the helping professions fuzzily refer to them. There are a few things standing between me and merry. If I don't air them soon, my Christmas bag will be full of switches and coal and my mood will make Scrooge look like a sweetie-pie. And since I'm sure many of these things are bugging you too, I'll just consider this a public service column. The catharsis will be good for all our spirits and those we encounter.
Dante Alighieri described hell as consisting of nine circles, many of which were borrowed from the seven deadly sins. He wrote his Divine Comedy in the 14th century. While not taking issue with his hellacious architecture, the world has become a vastly more complicated place in the ensuing seven centuries. Nine circles just don't cut it anymore.
I don't think I'd get a lot of pushback if I suggested a 10th circle, a special little corner of hell, a foul-smelling, vermin-infested, scabrous, sweltering, flesh-burning suburb where eternity is spent by chemists, engineers and perhaps most especially marketers responsible for modern packaging.
This circle-o'-hell would be a soul-singeing laboratory where condemned men and women sit on hard stools padded with splintering shards of glass and spend an endless perdition repeatedly and unsuccessfully struggling to open the packages they've created.
I get no end of satisfaction imagining whomever is responsible for, say, that impossibly hard, unyielding plastic so many things are hermetically sealed in — yeah, you know the stuff, designed largely to prevent shoplifting, practically requiring power tools to open, sending hundreds of people to Emergency each year to get their hand stitched up or fingers sewn back on after the knife they were using in a vain attempt to open it slipped and did them a grievous injury — ripping their fingernails away from their bleeding fingertips, wearing what's left of their blackened teeth down to broken stumps and driving themselves insane spending eternity opening the very packages they created in life.
I smile silently to myself, an angelic countenance gracing my brow, seeing them cry out in frustration as they slowly starve, knowing the only thing standing between their immortal souls and nourishment is an unyielding potato chip bag, half full of air, none of them is strong enough to open by hand.
I listen in satisfaction to their cries of anguish rising up and joining the chorus of the doomed, their fellow professionals facing the grim prospects of eternal damnation, forever testing and retesting their vanishing ingenuity and physical dexterity, doing battle with single-serving condiment packages, childproof caps, security sealed envelopes, maddening Ziploc packaging and safety seals on untold numbers of containers from which liquid cannot be poured, yogurt cannot be spooned and life-saving medicine cannot be reached.
Closer to home, the 11th circle — and I refrain from assigning the additional circles' degrees of severity; that would require a much longer column — is populated by the incessant whiners, whingers, and woe merchants. This ring of hell would include the instant locals who seem to conflate their decision, no matter how spontaneous, to move here with a responsibility on someone else's part to ensure they enjoy the full benefits of an upper middle-class lifestyle to which they apparently seem to think they're entitled.
Whether it's housing that fits their meagre budgets, some dreamed of but tenuously grasped right to "ethical" grocery choices, a "living" wage beyond the ability of many small businesses to pay or skookum snow-sliding gear, the whiners want to know what you are going to do to fulfill their needs. They hang out on dark corners of social media and swap fairy tales about how much easier it was for those who came before them, their evidence seemingly limited to the fact those "others" have what they want and therefore must have had it handed to them in the mythical past, as opposed to, say, working for it.
First cousins, once removed but nonetheless related to the whiners, et.al., are the conspiracy theorists. They deserve their own circle if for no other reason than they'd consider it a conspiracy if their hell plot was populated by those who didn't believe everyone was out to get them.
They believe life is a rigged game, that Whistler itself is a closed shop run by and for the people in power, by which they seem to mean everyone who isn't themselves. They seem to think everything around them is life-threatening — vaccines, food, bombardments of radiation from smart meters, cell towers, microwave ovens, power lines and electric vehicle charging stations.
Conspiracy theorists do not believe their smart phones or computers are harmful; they seem to live most of their life on one or the other. They are only found on social media. They are never found volunteering, on advisory committees, fundraising, or contributing in any way to solving the problems threatening their existence. They deserve each other.
And with only enough space left for one of the many other circles of hell I can imagine, I'll dedicate it to the people who nature has cruelly handicapped with vision capable only of black and white, people who have never noticed a shade of grey.
They have recently excoriated David Suzuki. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons one might take issue with the man. But they question his dedication to environmental causes because he has committed the crime/sin of wealth. They indicted Al Gore for the same sin. They attack other's environmental activism because they drive cars, turn on electric lights, heat their houses and cook their food.
They believe, as do so many Conservatives, there are only sinners and saints... and there aren't any saints. To their way of thinking, if you're not in to sackcloth and ashes, eat only air, walk around naked and pass no waste, there is no ethical reason for you to oppose the tarsands, pipelines, rapacious growth or dog-eat-dog capitalism.
Boy, do I feel better. Bring on the holidays.