The Social Immune System Of America

Pierre Fontenot Friday, November 2, 2018 Comments Off on The Social Immune System Of America
The Social Immune System Of America

My childhood tragedies, wasp stings, fire ant bites, I’d get more sympathy from my mother.  My grandmother – not much.  She’d had decades of life, like it used to be, before my dainty baby leaf joined the family tree.  If I complained – too hot, too far, too little, too much – she’d just look at me, a little shake of her head, and keep going on…

Down the road was Miss Jim, same age, much harder life, still had an outhouse, had an invalid husband wilting away, off in a back bedroom.  I complained around her, once.  “You kids!  Don’t know Nuthin’ ‘bout hard!”  

And that’s the women!  With my grandfather, always had blood on his arms, yet still at it.

Now I’m the age of Miss Jim and my grandmother.  Everywhere I look, all over the news, it’s the same thing, youngsters making big deals out of nothing.  Yes, it’s bad, but it’s little bitty bad, it’s what you call bad when you ain’t been around long enough to know serious bad.

What’s missing now…where are the grownups that give perspective, and put the little-boy-crying-wolfs in their place?

The Immune System Is A Lot Like Hummingbirds  

Watch hummingbirds for five minutes.  Be thankful they’re tiny.  Imagine if they were as big as crows, and your toddler walked near what was “theirs”…  Imagine if they were as big as eagles, and you walked near what was “theirs”…

Think of the human immune system as a sub-microscopic army that make hummingbirds look like doves.  It used to have its hands full, back when we drank ditch water, walked barefoot among excrement, and bathed when we got caught in the rain.    

Anybody got allergies, anybody have asthma?  Trust me, 1000 years ago, 500 years ago, 100 years ago, there were far less.  Why?  Because the army of our immune system had bigger enemies than dust and ragweed.

X generations ago we started wearing shoes, so things couldn’t enter cuts on our feet.  We started regular bathing, we got better at cooking, our sanitation and sewage got better, and our water got cleaner, which meant that a vast horde of former enemies that found their way into our bodies were reduced dramatically.  

Our immune system had less to fight.  But it was bred for constant, vigilant internal warfare…so it found some pollen…and thought ‘hey that doesn’t belong here’, and here we go with allergies…a war just for the sake of war…because our immune system needs a fight.  

21st Century Americans And Our Immune System Is Looking For An Enemy

Look at us now.  Look how good we have it.

Even poor people have cell phones.  Only the homeless don’t have indoor plumbing.  Clean water is everywhere.  Our ancestors would consider Goodwill clothing a luxury.  Our wars are “conflicts”, they’re smaller, more surgical, smart bombs and drones, and yes there are casualties, but nothing like Vietnam, Korea, WWII…

We have it good.  Disagree?  Go to a cemetery, find some old graves, imagine their life, and their standard of living, and at the foot of their grave, tell them how bad you have it…  

But if you look at our news, it’s just One Thing After Another!  It’s a tragedy, an outrage, an injustice.  

…kinda looks to me like a social immune system that is fighting for the sake of fighting… 

A Few Examples To Make A Point

In 2010 two white U of Missouri students were prosecuted for a hate crime for dropping cotton balls in front of the black culture center.  Black students were outraged.  The cotton balls were a symbol of “cotton picker.”  The media pronounced it a Big Deal.  O my goodness, even had one student doing a hunger strike…

Just the other day, the Kavanaugh vote, and here’s this reaction: “I have no words… I NEVER dreamed something this horrible would happen in America! “

Is that proportional to the “crime?”

With no bin Laden or Hitler or USSR to unite against, we divide, and fight each other.  Some people spend their day throwing word rocks at snowflakes and the socialist left.   On the other side, I’ve got people that spend hour after day after week agonizing over the latest Trump thing.  

I’m a leery dude.  I was leery of Obama, I was leery of Trump, but America is bigger than both.  Meanwhile, there’s life to live.

Right now I know four people who are fighting cancer.  The other day one of them posts a picture of her little girl, says, “I don’t suppose I care much about Supreme Courts or cloned Facebook accounts (2 days, 1 hoax). I just sit here, and smile…and think about her.”  She’s awaiting 3D mammograms and ultrasound.  She’s young.  This is heavy duty.  She doesn’t have the emotional energy to waste on what “they” think is a big deal…

Why do we knee jerk from one crisis to the next?  Can’t every boat be the Titanic.  We’ve shrunk the standards down so small that I don’t know what rates an outrage anymore.  Most of it don’t rate for squat…or the loss of time of getting pulled into it…

I thought people with common sense kept their sleeves away from even a candle flame.  Just hold off, rest the soul, build up a reserve, because you never know what’s coming, marriage strain, kid in trouble, aging parents, something worrisome on the doctor’s expression…

In this zip code when I say “Hurricane Rita” we’ll all react the same.  To us that was all the T words that the media uses – Terrible, Tragic, Travesty.  

…but give us a choice, do Rita again, and it’ll save a school shooting…we’d do Rita again!

Perspective, baby, it’s all about perspective…

Our Social Immune System 

We apparently need a battle.  When I was a kid, it was USSR and Communism.  For my parents, Hitler.  For my grandparents, the battle was basic security, a cow to milk, a hog to butcher, and a crop to sell.  

And look at us now, money in the bank, no thoughts of nukes, and what do we do…have Thanksgiving every Thursday like grateful people should do?

Nope…we just make mountains out of molehills…all worked up for two day crises…and then on to the next one…a social immune system looking for battles…

And like drug dealers are to addicts, so the media is to us.  They (and yes, your trusted favorite)  want our eyes, so they can sell advertising, so they use Terrible and Tragic and Travesty in headlines about stories that our grandparents would treat like a mosquito near their ear…

   _  _  _  _  _  _  _   _   _

This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is brought to you by Eighty-one, where we think hummingbirds could learn something from butterflies.  

Uncle P can be reached at  Other Bedtime Stories can be found on the Eighty-one Facebook page.

Comments are closed.