Life is full of things that seem obvious. Or at least they seem obvious to me–but they don’t seem obvious to other people, so I guess they really aren’t obvious at all. So today I propose to discuss some of those “obvious” things that apparently aren’t obvious at all to other people. I will begin with with relatively trivial matters, and gradually move on to more serious things.
1/A great many stickers sent to us by charitable organizations are impractical. I love stickers. I enjoy putting one on the outside of many of the letters I send. A sticker adds a touch of beauty to a letter. Charitable organization often include stickers in their package of gifts to us, as they try to encourage us to donate. Great idea. However, far too often the stickers they send are impractical. I have in front of me a page of nineteen stickers (well, one has been used, so eighteen). The pictures of flowers are attractive. However, each sticker has a message. They vary: Congratulations, Happy Birthday, Thank You, Thinking of You, Happy Anniversary, Get Well Soon. These messages all might come in handy on occasion, as you match the correct sticker to the appropriate occasion. But how many times do we need to wish someone happy birthday or happy anniversary? Most of the letters we send out, including bills paid but also our regular correspondence, do not match up with any of the stickers. So it becomes difficult to use the stickers on an everyday basis. I find myself doing one of two things: a/avoiding using the stickers, or, b/recklessly putting inappropriate stickers on letters. Charitable organizations would help us more, and have their stickers used more, if they would give us stickers of something beautiful, and avoid putting messages on the stickers. Apparently the people who send us stickers never use stickers themselves, or they would realize they are complicating our lives by sending us stickers with messages on them. Why not five stickers with messages (they might come in very handy someday), while the other fifteen or twenty are just beautiful but with no messages? We would be grateful if you did that. Well, I guess I should say I would be grateful rather than we would be grateful, since I have never heard other people complain about this common phenomenon of impractical sticker construction.
2/Charitable organizations often send us stickers and return address tags which are idolatrous of the United States. (Sorry, I can’t get stickers out of my mind today–sort of like Mr. Dick couldn’t keep King Charles’ head out of his writing or copying in David Copperfield.) I have a bunch of stickers/name tags in front of me as I type. They include lots of American flags, slogans such as Let Freedom Ring, United We Stand, Thank You To All Who Serve, etc. What makes all this even worse is that the stickers were sent by a Christian organization. One sticker says, God Bless Our Troops. You want to bless our troops? Stop lying to them about what a great free country this is, and stop wrapping yourself in the flag of a bullying empire which kills and cripples foreigners (as well as our own troops). Tell the truth to our troops, and keep them alive by keeping them out of idiotic foreign wars. That your organization is so mindless makes me wonder how sensible your brand of Christianity is. Is all your thinking so trite? It seems obvious to me that it is ridiculous for any organization, especially a Christian organization, to pretend that the United States is somehow on the side of the God of the Bible. But it must not be obvious at all, because this organization (and others) continue to send out the same ridiculous stickers/name tags year after year.
3/One-handed passing in basketball is impractical and costs the loss of the basketball far too often. (Once is far too often.) One-handed passing sometimes results in the ball being thrown away. That means a chance to shoot the ball and try to score, was lost because of something that should not have happened and need not have happened but did. When a pass is made with two hands, it has a better chance of arriving accurately. Of course there may be situations where passing with two hands is impractical or impossible. Falling out of bounds while trying to rescue a ball may give a player only the option of using one hand. But most situations are not like that. For most situations, two-handed passing is available. Every possession is crucial. If a game is not close, one or two foolish possessions are not important. But countless games come down to one possession. Look at scores: one- or two- or three-point margins of victory (and thus of defeat) are not rare at all. The ball is precious all the time, but especially in close games. Why shoot yourself in the foot by using a one-handed pass and losing the ball? You would think I would need to be chastised for having the audacity to say something so obvious. Yet clearly most coaches, even very successful coaches, do nothing to stop the plague of one-handed passes infecting the game. You can see a one-handed pass go awry, the ball is lost, and the coach does nothing. He isn’t upset, he seems not to have noticed how the ball was recklessly lost, he does not remove the erring player in order to instruct him how to do better next time. Life goes on smoothly, or at least as smoothly as it can without the basketball. It seems so obvious to me that throwing the ball away more than you need to is destructive of your chances to win. But apparently it is not obvious at all.
4/Having two last names is cheating. We all have a first name and a last name. We all have one of each. If you are Bill Harris, we are all glad respectfully to address you as Mr. Harris. But if you marry Nancy Porter, and suddenly you are Mr. and Mrs. Harris-Porter, you’re cheating. Is your son Fred Harris-Porter? The rest of us have one last name, but your family is so special that it deserves to have two? And where does this stop? If your son is Fred Harris-Porter (or Porter-Harris) and he marries Sally Carter-Ffinch, will their son be Reginald Harris-Porter-Carter-Ffinch (or Reginald Porter-Harris-Carter-Ffinch)? So Reggie (excuse my informality) has four last names, and we peasants have one? No. Let’s stop the madness now. One last name for everyone; anything else is simply cheating.
Well, there are four things on my list of obvious-but-apparently-not-obvious things. That leaves more for next time. I hope to give you more last week.