Flannery Correspondence

May 1, 2010

Men Are From Mars: This Means War

Filed under: POPS! — BrianOFlan @ 17:45

April 16th, 2010

by Brian Flannery

“I just try to remember that everyone is fighting a great battle.” That’s how a family friend handles tough customers. She works retail; she should know. Good for encouragement and patience, I guess. But mostly I just like the idea of battle!

We’re tip-toeing through this gray foggy world. Everyone wants to pick light or dark, white or black, right or wrong. Real life is way too complex for that constant precision. Even though you know you can’t be perfect, you want to try to be a good guy. A good husband, father, neighbor.

Your only hope, then, is to boil it down to a story that’s clear — one or two fairy tales with real heroes and real bad guys. Then you can know who’s side you’re on. There’s not much intrigue in being you — timid, balding, middle aged, middle-of-the-road, mid-level manager earning average wages for a mediocre job somewhere uninspiring. What if instead you were Robin Hood or William Tell or Ivanhoe or Lancelot?

I don’t mean fantasy. Not a daydream over the copy machine. I mean a subtle fable that you refer to when you make decisions that matter.

  • White lie about a coworker? What would Honest Abe Lincoln say? He would probably wrestle you.
  • Sell out? What would George Bailey say? He’d say It’s a Wonderful Life if you stay broke but friendly.
  • Cook the books? Batman will drive a black Ferrari through your morning commute.
  • Passively resign yourself to middle class suburbia? What would Sarah Conner think of that? No fate but what we make.
  • Compromise your wedding vows? Merlin will claim your firstborn.
  • Minor export-control violation (sell weapons or defense blueprints outside the USA)? Iron Man will feed you to the starving residents of Gulmira.
  • Exploit your low-level workers? Think about Robin Hood or Clark Griswold.

[Editor’s note: I just noticed that those bullet points look like cute little flowers on the website mopsinfo.blogspot.com. Just when I thought “bullet” points were unquestionably cool.]

There are plenty of analogies and live-in allegories to choose from. Ladies like the soft, emotional ones where you have to outwit a nasty step-mother. As men we like rougher stuff — like war. Most of us are not in a real war. Nobody is shooting at us. We rarely stay up for days with only adrenaline and cigarettes. We hardly ever see things blow up. So much for men being from Mars, god of war.

On some important level, we are all fighting the great battles that constitute a living war. The enemy is the wimp inside us, or the bully; the codependent alcoholic or the pious Pharisee.

The enemy has infiltrated your intelligence network and scrambled the signal. The enemy is telling you to turn the TV up and throw back another cold one instead of changing the oil. Play another round of Nintendo golf instead of taking the kids to a sunny park. Level up in Warcraft then saddle up for the Doctor Who marathon. Read the paper instead of having to look at your wife and children over breakfast.

The enemy is the rat race of consumer debt and impulse spending. The enemy is whispering in your ear that you’ve done enough, you deserve a treat, you can skip those calls you should make. Ignore the chance to make a friend or have a beer with the new guy.

Maybe the enemy is not the boys who want to date your daughter. Maybe the enemy is not your son’s drugs or peer pressure. The enemy is not your wife’s handsome new coworker. The enemy is not pornography but who’s looking.

The enemy is ruthless. We will never survive unless we are ruthless. Hack off every little inoculated arm. Waterboard some answers out of your own internal POW.

So throw a grenade. Grab a machine gun or flame thrower. Radio for some air support. Drive a tank over the trenches and pump them full of mustard gas. Stick a pipe bomb in their chassis and send an exploding arrow into their exhaust. Carpet bomb the perimeter and take no prisoners.

We are under attack. If you are reading this, you are the Resistance.

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