By Daniel Dunaief
I’m a happy idiot, or HI for short. I admit it. I’m even thinking of forming a club. No, it’s not a political party, and no, we’re not excluding anyone, which means that self-hating people will struggle to accept that we accept them without exception.
Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest. I know, I know. I’m supposed to find people who disagree with me, who come from a different political party, who celebrate different holidays or different religions annoying or frustrating. I’m supposed to look past those people at the ones who live and think like I do.
How do I know that? My political leaders and the pundits on TV spend a great deal of time telling me that other people are ruining my life, this country, history, religion, baseball and apple pie. Most apple pie has dairy in it anyway, and I’m allergic to dairy, not that I’m offended by dairy or anyone who eats it. I like watching people eat food with dairy, like ice cream, because I know it makes them happy, and as a charter member of the happy idiot club, I’m pleased to share vicariously in other people’s happiness.
I can’t ascribe to the endless need to bicker and find fault. It’s not who I am, and it’s not fun. Sure, people can be annoying and can say things that I find problematic or objectionable.
And, yes, I would take issue with anyone who trampled on principles I believe in or who, through word or deed, violated my sense of right or wrong or who broke the law.
As a matter of daily living, though, I don’t celebrate moments when the other side loses because I often have friends on both sides of any aisle, and I don’t believe a loss for the other side is as good, if not better, than a victory for me.
I’m not going to revel in the schadenfreude that has come to define so much of American life, in which taunting, making faces, humiliating or name-calling makes people happy.
On a daily basis and apart from when I watch political leaders or pundits on TV, I find most people unobjectionable. When I start chatting with someone — whether that’s on the sidewalk, in the supermarket, at the gym, or at an early season baseball game — my first thought isn’t about how they might have voted for the wrong person or that they might believe in the wrong things. I don’t judge the tattoos on their arms, their piercings, or the different clothing they wear.
I listen to what they say and to how they say it and have found that they are as welcoming of me, with my untucked shirt and the endless array of sports paraphernalia I wear, as I am of them.
More often than not, they talk about something relatable, like their day, the struggle to help their children, the search for a plumber who won’t charge too much or their excitement that their daughter just got into an extraordinarily competitive college.
With our phones, we have endless ways to connect with people from all over the state, the country and the world. Our political leaders, however, would have us believe that we should make an effort to disconnect or to disrespect those whom we consider different or other.
Well, as a happy idiot, I won’t scream at you and tell you whom to hate, fear or blame. Like me, you can enjoy the comfort of friends and neighbors hoping for a better tomorrow without the screaming, shouting, insulting or hating. Being happy doesn’t keep you from succeeding or working hard: it keeps you from wasting energy being annoyed, angry, irritated or fearful. So, come, join the happy party.