RETURNING TO JERK JUNCTION


“In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity In Peace: Good Will.” Winston S. Churchill

Last month, while in Safeway, I encountered a lady in the bread aisle, carefully examining a loaf, right where I wanted to go. I mean carefully.  I could not get to the loaf I wanted, and she seemed oblivious to everything else but that loaf of bread.

Rather than disturb her, I took Suck it Up Lane to the next aisle to get some yogurt and then returned, figuring she might be gone.  Nope, she was still checking out that same loaf of bread.  

I had enough of Suck it Up Lane, so I turned on Excuse Me Way, reached around her leg, got the loaf I wanted, and left.  She never moved, and I think, although I couldn’t swear to it at a Senate hearing, that she gave me a dirty look.  So be it.  If she wanted to be on Jerk Road, I wasn’t going to follow her, although jerk is usually a masculine noun.  In any case, shoppers usually excuse themselves a lot at the store; if not, well, one probably owns property on Jerk Road. 

Suck it Up Lane is for wanting to yell at people but not doing it.  There is also Winston Churchill Boulevard: “In victory, “Magnanimity.”  That means when the winner doesn’t lord it over the loser.  You don’t brag, you don’t rub their nose in it, you don’t laugh at them, and you don’t become a jerk.  Instead, you try to be generous, hoping one day that when you lose, which you will, that you may be treated the same way.  In other words, jerks put up Trump/Pence signs before the midterm elections, since neither of the two was running.  A jerk will drive his pickup slowly through the neighborhood with a big American flag flying from the bed, proclaiming patriotism, as if the rest of us were somehow deficient.  Blatantly showing the flag doesn’t make one patriotic any more than singing the Star Spangled Banner makes one a diva or knowing the difference between its and it’s—or your and you’re— makes one a published author.  Only jerks keep obsessing about Hillary Clinton, yelling, “Lock her up”  at rallies designed to stoke the base, where they also scream obscenities. Only jerks keep harping on her emails when the president’s own daughter did the same thing.  Only jerks keep harping on chain migration when the president’s in-laws got citizenship that way.

That’s a tall order.  I thought of the jerks who put up the sign east of Walterville for the Republican congressional candidate and another set of jerks who did the same out by Dexter, on the way up to Willamette Pass.  I found I could drive by without looking at those signs, since they are for only a month every two years, the perennial congressional candidate is a hypocrite, and I have discussed him before.  I wish he would go away, but he won’t. 

It was the signs for the president and vice president placed near the congressman sign that made those doing it jerks. Yes, they were on Jerk Road, near Highway 126 or 58.  They were lording over the fact they won.  Yes, they did win the electoral college, at least in the votes counted if perhaps not all the ones actually cast.  They are glad, not only that they got the kind of country they seem to think it should be, but really glad that My Side is upset.  They take delight in knowing we lost.  That’s right down the centerline of Jerk Road.

But in My Side’s defeat, there is Defiance Avenue, defiance of bullies, who live in the past, with a vision of an America that never existed the way they think it did. They want to take America back to a time of (old) white men’s ruling most everything, segregation, women’s place in society, few or no regulations, no abortion under any circumstances, no birth control, pregnancy and raising the child a woman’s problem.  

Lack of adequate, known, safety and other regulations has led to several million’s dying from lung cancer, transportation-related accidents, firearms, bad food, water, and air, suboptimal medical and mental health care.

The Other Side too often disparages and ignores science, even as they enjoy the electronic and much healthier world it helped develop.  Without proof, they say, “It’ll (the climate) will change back.” When? Why? How?

Here in Lane County, The Other Side’s incumbent  wanted to define a county commissioner’s race by who was better for the timber industry.  He discussed timber and so-called Oregon values in his ads.  He was funded by the timber industry, and after listening to his commercial, I realized he was out of touch with both the electorate and the time. I’m not an expert on body language, but he sure looked and sounded angry.  He was only three years younger than I, which is no compliment.  His opponent, a woman 25 years younger, runs a property management service that my wife and I used for two years with total satisfaction.  Timber is still important here, but it doesn’t define Oregon. Many of us resent being called environmental extremists for being upset at aerial spraying, clear cuts that leave slash and later burn (accelerating at least two major fires in 2017), polluted waterways, a forest management timeline of only 10 years, rather than 100, or even 200, the idea that we can cut again in 40 years, rather than 100, the unsightly scars that are replaced by monoculture forests, and the assumption that the soil will be just as good for second and third growth as it was for the original old growth.  He lost by 12%.  We flipped the commissioners from 4-1 Other Side to 3-2 My Side.  This is the kind of change we need locally that is going to directly help my life.  I’m not jeering at the ex-incumbent.  I’m hoping we can have a county more suited to the 2020s than the 1920s, when timber workers truly thought our forests were infinite.

Jerks cheer when the president thinks body slamming a reporter is a good thing, rather than Jerk Expressway behavior and should end, especially given the number of close associates to the president who have actually been charged, are in jail, or face prison time.  The new Supreme Court justice once said about being a good judge: “In short, don’t be a jerk.”  And a few days later, he was a jerk, still being confirmed, not surprisingly.    

I have traveled Jerk Road more than I care to admit, but I try to take the first exit I find. That requires a JerkMeter, called self-awareness, and a JPS, Jerk Positioning System, otherwise known as compassion or a conscience, so that one can quickly find his way off.  

Yes, his way off.

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