WARNING: There will be discussion of air travel, which, in lieu of current events, may seem in bad taste, or a trigger for the anal puckering of the more empathetic among us (a truly laudable trait) but I assure you, none of it is meant to minimize or trivialize the loss of life. Which I would hope is obvious.
The holidays (yes, “holidays” not just Christmas because I celebrate Boxing Day and Saturnalia and the last two days of Hanukkah, the ones that count, the days where that oil for those lanterns was really stretching) is my time for semi-annual air travel. WAIT! Don’t go! I’m not going to complain this time…maybe. This time, I tried to put things into perspective. So, I traveled back in time to talk to my pioneer ancestors, Solomon and Tamzene Picklesmithe.
“Solomon, Tamzanity…Ha ha! Because you’re kooky with your smock and frock and errant chin scruff which is comely…uh…for a lass of your…Say, would you like some modern juice? It’s like all of those fruits you struggle to keep alive all year smashed into a thick liquid paste that helps you think you’re losing weight because you’re not chewing…Yes, we in modern times have problems losing weight. That kind of ties in to why I decided to visit you from the future, which, after the crying, vomiting and trying to murder me with assorted farming equipment, I have to say you’re taking it very well.
“You see, in the future, humanity travels vast distances through the air in metal tubes with wings…Wait wait wait, put down the torch, naughty Solomon. These are called airplanes. You know how you just took a wagon train from Massachusetts to Oregon, lost your son, Augustus, and we’re pretty sure your other son, Noah, ate your new baby, Levinah, and your other child, Hiram, died of dysentery while Dorothea, your sister wife, died of consumption, and all of that took several months and a lifetime of hellish, haunting nightmares? Yeah, in the future, all of that takes about six-to-eight hours and you get a free cup of juice.
“No, not one at a time, they can take 200 people at a time across the country…No, Ha ha. We don’t have to worry about Indians anymore, we–well, you will take care of all of them and in my time we give them casinos and debilitating alcohol dependency.
“Actually, we do not rejoice, we in fact complain religiously about the minor inconveniences like when they lose our stuff and take more of money–schillings for less service.
“No, that’s not really fair. You see, this little exercise wasn’t to taunt you about the travails you suffered and your defiance of hygiene and general human decency. It was about getting a better perspective of my own complaints. You have helped me realize that when people tell me to put my complaints ‘into perspective’, I am. I am putting them into my perspective, the only world view I can truly understand. When people use dismissive terms like ‘first world problems’, they’re not doing any great service, in fact it’s counterproductive. Dismissing ‘first world problems’ is only seeing downward, creating an ever-reductive argument until you get to the last person who has it worse than anyone on the planet.
“Of course I have it better than people born with flies laying larvae on their lid-less eyeballs, or you, my disgusting ancestors with your active avoidance of oral health. But that also misses the point that there are people who have it better than me who are looking for every opportunity to take advantage of me and the rest of those economically beneath them. If no one is allowed to complain except the one person, the armless, legless, speech deprived scoliosis patient with the chronic whooping cough chained in a basement subjected to periodic and random burnings and forced to bathe in jalapeno juice who has lost control of his bowels and thinks he detected a lump on his one remaining, inflamed testicle; then we will never have a populist movement that progresses the majority of society.
“So, while I thought, in absconding with time travel technology to come into the past that I would find myself apologizing to you, Tamzene and Solomon, for shaming my ancestors by complaining about how good we have it, in fact, I want to slap the both of you for being so short sighted as to not complain about the overpriced yolk the merchant sold to you for your oxen! Stop letting merchants take advantage of you! Thank you…and by the way, you were right, I am a witch! Bye!”
At which point I returned to our current time, hoping beyond hope that my words echo beyond the ages and we all feel empowered to complain because it could lead to a better tomorrow for all and not just the one abused basement prisoner I mentioned earlier.