Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Rebellion over what?

My dad used to sit in his recliner, puffing on a cigarette, shouting at the TV about how THEY were impinging on his "personal freedom."
•  Seat belts. He refused to wear his and actually hoped he'd be stopped and ticketed so he could "protest" the law. Or so he said. He never actually protested anything. I remember asking him why, instead of yelling at the news, he didn't write letters to the village president, the governor, his senators, the President ... anyone. He looked at this young Gal as though what I'd suggested was not only impudent but quite ridiculous.

•  Anti-smoking laws. It was his right to pollute his lungs with that omnipresent cigarette, and he simply didn't believe any of the research about second-hand smoke. He really hated it when THEY banned smoking on flights. He actually didn't go to Los Angeles to see his first grandchild "out of rebellion." Except none of us believed him. We knew he was simply so hooked of his cigs that he couldn't go four hours without one. It was sad. (He died of a stroke, brought on by cigarettes, when he was just 56, long before smoking was banned in restaurants. How he would have hated that!)
•  Zip codes. Yes, you read that right. He complained that he was "an individual, not a number," and refused to let THEM dehumanize him. I suspected there was more to it than that. Like me, my father was impossible with numbers. I recall the very serious trouble he got into when he accidentally transposed the digits of his SSN on a handwritten bank application. It wouldn't surprise me if he didn't have trouble remembering another number.

Interestingly, he was 100% on board with signs that said, "NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE." Neither my mother nor I wore shoes unless absolutely required to and our going barefoot outdoors made him crazy. It just didn't strike him as "lady like" for us to be on the front porch or in the yard, barefoot, with neighbors and he'd point to those store signs as proof he was right. I worked very hard not to let the words, "personal freedom" or "hypocrite" pass my lips. After all, I needed my allowance.

But I think of my dad when I hear the whining and complaining about requiring masks in stores. It's for public safety, just like shoes. Or seat belts. Or no smoking laws. Instead of politicizing it, and maintaining that THEY are trying to control you, why not just accept the science? (Or are these folks still flat earthers?)