The Tolls of the Low Road

By R. D. Flavin


     We must remember in all things and ways normal and normalcy are defined by extremes and extremism.  Meanings and explanations good, bad, and indifferent seemingly appear to add color to this achromatic and binary existence as we dizzy ourselves in the contemplation of infinite shades of gray.  Light refraction is like an opinion in that we all have a unique shine and shade.  We choose to agree or disagree while reality continues whether we accept it or not.  There is always the cost what and which ever path is picked with the High Road commanding commitment and the tolls of the Low Road affording apathetic ambiance.  Oswald was the lone assassin in the murder of Pres. Kennedy, Han shot first, water's wet, and we're all hypocrites in our own way.

     If enough people believe in a wrong thing, civil and criminal laws may change, but the wrong will remain wrong and never right, as reality's forever and belief by itself is protected ideation.  I know, belief is unavoidable as we can't be expected to vet every thing and thought.  Nature's Law becomes science with lots of fine print.  It's convenient, sometimes comforting, to share the beliefs of others as out of the many one may be glimpsed, yet never quite captured in uber-perfect surety.  Quantum variables allow for this and that and the next now has not yet passed.  Some prefer the as-published “original” version of Stephen King's The Stand and others the unedited and revised door-stop “Coffin Box” tome of 1,152 pages released years later.  Congress likes its Constitution in the King's English and the more things have changed since the American Revolution the less likely it is to hear the speech of the commoner again.  Oh, it's whispered within informed entertainment, but the din of formality drowns out the damn of familiarity.  We despise grammar-Nazis, especially their affectation of causal correctness when it's anything but casual.  Sometimes it's enough to know what's right and sometimes it isn't ...quiet enough.  How do we bypass the unanswerable question and get others to believe in truthful things?  Did we change more between the cave paintings of the Upper Paleolithic and the first Sumerian cuneiform writing ca. 3200 BCE or between Homer, the Blind Poet and Homer Simpson?  We're cave-folk with phones that are smarter than us and our collective behavior feels premature and forced.  History has made us grow up too fast.

     Our laws are moral and ethical artifacts of the past as judged by the present.  Is it constitutional to remain affixed in reverence or to change with necessity?  We posture the letter of the law askew to accommodate the spirit of law and more times than naught fail in our humanist crusade.  Last Saturday, our ex-president of jolly with folly, William Jefferson Clinton, accepted the GLAAD Advocate for Change Award and bemoaned the “new bigotry in America,” though it was just about seventeen years ago he signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act to ensure U.S. Treasury coffers would benefit by not federally recognizing same-sex unions.  We need, of course, much more change and hopefully some crisp, uncirculated (read: non-recycled) bills to break the Congressional winds of warble.  I'm reminded that I need to stop by the hospital and change my emergency contact from no one to someone now that Katie Holmes is no longer a Scientologist...

     We gripe about agendas while forgetting that inaction is actionable.  Should I care about gun-control and background checks even though I have no immediate plans to purchase a gun online?  Why would I invest viable goof-off time with a woman's right to choose when it's unlikely that I'll once more impregnate a lucky lass?  Could I address immigration reform by marrying an illegal (non-Uranian) alien?  When the Obama administration refused to bail-out Hostess and production of Twinkies ceased did I type, proof, and send a strongly worded e-mail of protest?  I can imagine Hell has something special set aside for the intellectually dishonest.

     Participation produces extremes, yet dawn and dusk are middling opposites.  For a broken clock to be right twice a day still requires someone who can tell our hour.  Some swear by time and others run from it.  Acceptance works without absolute exception as attendance guaranties a place at the parallel bars.  Equality benefits from a math class, but has yet to take hold in the playground.  Bruce Cockburn took his rocket launcher and went home complaining that it just wasn't much fun anymore.  When activism becomes only what freaks and fools do, it allows the inactive to continue with what they haven't been doing all along.

     The High Road is populated by the vociferous who chant and rant at the vacillating Low Road of the cowardly uncommitted.  Skepticism will always be the master of magick, but in bed with death and taxes we all must sooner or later confront the threesome of choice.  Maybe the Lazy embraces the moribund and indecision becomes a singular tombstone to mark the graves of the mumbling masses who lacked spines of opinion.  Silence, the speechless voice of still airs, covets the Imperfect Union.  It becomes Them versus No One (née “Us”) by not voting.  It's play or die as Life is not a spectator sport.  Even cat-lovers know to bring canines to the fight.  Nature abhors vacuums, the House works when it wants to and not when it should, yet we ignore the Lobby because we don't want to miss any of the latest blockbuster.  As they've been without chargeable roads since 2008, the bonnie Scots disagree that all leads to Rome and wager they're better travelers.

     Indignation o'er great and lesser evils is nothing new.  As a too-young-to-vote Democrat, I went door to door handing out McGovern literature.  One day I cornered my Dad, who'd recently sent Nixon a check for fifty bucks, and convinced him to contribute to McGovern's campaign.  After the election I asked my Dad who he voted for and he replied, “I didn't trust either one, so I didn't vote...”  Dieters who demand the demise of the poly-unsaturated, and the sugarless, non-fat, gluten-free, zero-calories and carbohydrates crowd who strive for the Heroin Chic and Auschwitz look seldom split their jeans, but don't properly flesh them out either.  We're gonna need a bigger conscience.

     The Avon-Dude, Bill of the Shaking Spears, shared his staged World long before the Waterfront Commission pronounced that we shoulda, woulda, coulda been a classy contender if not for our dishonesty.  It's time for us to leave the Low Road and stop beating ourselves up with guileful guilt and senseless shame.  We need to give a little or a lot of ourselves to better this graying realm.  Go Democracy and Happy (belated) Earth Day!  As the bell begins to toll, time's a-wastin'!

Appreciating my eighth of Scotch,


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