gee, haw…

“If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence.
And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your
heart back and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away
every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.”

St. Francis de Sales


(a pair of Belgium working horses on Mackinac Island / Julie Cook / 2017)

My husband and I hopped in the car the other evening, as we were getting ready to
head over to Atlanta to see our son and daughter-n-law…
and I don’t know what brought it up, but we got off on a small technology tangent.

Most likely what got us started was my wanting to turn on the seat warmers.
Temps had not reached above the freezing point all day, and now the sun was quickly
setting sending temperatures plummeting.
Needless to say, I’ve been mostly cold for the last two months.

My husband said, for no one in particular, “technology left me years ago…
it left me back with gee and haw…”

“GEE, HAW???!!!!” I practically shout before bursting out into full laughter.

For those of you unfamiliar with such words, Gee and Haw are the two words used with
working animals such as mules, draft horses, and even sled dogs.
Gee means for the mule, horse or dog to turn right
Shout ‘Haw,’ and the animal turns left.

My husband can remember as a little boy visiting his grandparents up in north
Georgia with his grandfather using mules to plow the fields.
He’d shout “Gee” then “Haw,” and those mules knew exactly which way to turn.
That was probably in the early 1950’s as rural Georgia was just that, still very rural.

We had actually heard the same terms used recently, this past summer when visiting
Mackinac Island as there are no vehicles on the island—only draft horses doing
everything from acting as the taxis to delivering UPS.
Gee.
Haw

Low tech.
And I must say, I for one, found it somewhat comforting.
It was actually really refreshing.

I know it, being technology, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon but instead will only be advancing…
And sadly so…
for technology has, if it hasn’t already, gotten entirely out of hand as well as a disaster
just waiting to happen…

This insatiable need of ours to see, to know, to hear, to tell everything instantaneously is a very dangerous false need.

It has created a very dangerous sense of profound falsehoods that most of us don’t even
realize.
For we are a people who are greatly dependent upon our technology—for even life
and death issues…

But let’s look at a couple non-life-threatening examples of when technology goes
awry…or perhaps just more of an irksome trouble.

During the busy Christmas shopping mayhem season, my husband’s internet randomly went out at his store. His is a busy retail
business, so when there’s a technology issue and his register goes out, or his credit card machine goes out, he loses money as people will walk out the door.

We spent hours on the phone with AT&T trying to find a person who was actually
“stateside” as we continued narrowing help down to Georgia, then down to our individual town.
That took hours of waiting and frustration. All the while the store is full of people
who want to be waited on and checked out.
We were told it would be days before they could get someone out to check out our problem.
Days was not an option.

In the meantime, we had to pull out the old-timey credit card swiper….remember
those low tech little machines?

A customer would lay their card down on top of a triple carbon copy slip
while the clerk swiped the little lever over the card and carbon paper. The
customer’s card info would be swiped and imprinted onto the carbon ticket.
The customer would then sign the swiped carbon slip as the clerk would then pull off
the customer copy while keeping the store copy…
then off went the happy customer with their purchase.

The old-timey swiping machine worked perfectly fine as we waited for the AT&T technician
to eventually make the trip to the store.
Turns out the internet was out for unknown reasons randomly in the shopping center…
the next time it went out, a week later, the technician sent us out get a new cable…

sigh…

Last evening we went to neighboring town for supper at a Craker Barrel.
I often crave Cracker Barrel’s simple homey fare offering of
good ol’ southern prepared food.
Chicken and dumplings, fried okra, spicy collard greens, southern style green beans…
or even their offering of breakfast for supper.
Plus they had a roaring fire going and we were fortunate to snag
a table by the fire.

When we’d finished our meal we took the bill out to the register to pay.
The line snaked all the way back into the dining area.
We figured they were low of help at the registers…
but that was not the issue.
Their card machines weren’t working probably and weren’t reading folks
debit or credit cards correctly.

Finally, as we made our way to a cashier, we told the manager we were going
to pay with something very novel…real money.

The manager was grateful and said he wished he had one of the old-timey
credit card swiper machines but since he was the oldest one on staff, he was the only
one who even knew what such a machine was…

Low tech.

Those are just a couple examples of small technological issues
of when things don’t work or go wrong.

Now let’s consider a bit larger trouble.

Saturday, a statewide alert went out in Hawaii, alerting the public that a ballistic missile was on its way to the Islands.
It was one of those Amber style alerts that went out on everyone’s phones.
It was not a drill and everyone needed to seek immediate shelter.
For those in Hawaii, it was the end of life as they had known it.

With North Korea’s 24/7 threats, threatening to send a nuclear warhead
in the direction of Japan, South Korea, Hawaii, or Alaska…well its all had everyone
a tad bit nervous…so Saturday, it seemed that the unthinkable was actually happening.

However…

The issued warning alert was in actuality incorrect.
It had been issued by mistake.
There was no missile, no need to duck and cover.
No need for immediate Last Rites.

I wonder how busy the ER’s were following the correction with those feigning a
possible heart attack?

So it should come as no surprise that we’ve gotten really good these days at lamenting,
“technology, it’s great when it works…not so much when it doesn’t…”

And yet I rather miss our low tech dealings during these waning days of ours…

Gee
Haw

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
Psalm 146:3

Moral obligations

“Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.”
― Catherine of Siena

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”
Sigmund Freud

DSCN8599
(ornaments / Julie Cook / 2014)

Does the ability to be creative and expressive give license and free rein to the one being creative or expressive to work without limits, boundaries or parameters?

Does the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of United States of America state that freedom of speech, as well as what some equate to be the right of creative self expression, equate to the ability to say everything and anything about anyone and anything regardless of what may be said and as to how it may be said?

Does the “right” to free speech and what is interpreted as the freedom of creative expression, as is often considered to be a subcategory to the continuum of the concept of freedom of speech, bare any responsibility to what is therefore spoken or “created”?

Just because someone may believe that it is an inherent right to say and create what is believed to be funny and / or a parody and / or that which is offensive to others–does that “right” and freedom therefore make it ok to do so? —Even if it is making fun of or mocking another or what another finds important or sacred?
Does it make it ok if the one being mocked and made fun of is considered to be a bad person or not a nice person?

Such questions now swirl throughout this country following the hacking onslaught of Sony Pictures.

“Oh but sure, this is America (you now can heard saying)–we can say and do whatever we want about anybody we want whenever we want and we can do it in any fashion we so choose. We want to laugh so therefore we can make fun of whatever and whomever we so choose and pay good money doing so–because we can. Hey it’s ok, they’re the bad guys, so we can say whatever we want, right? And who cares if someone “over there” gets mad. This is American, we can and will do as we please.”

This of which now seems to be the sad battle cry of those who feel as if the gauntlet has been thrown down over Hollywood’s freedom of expression.

Perhaps there is more to this “right” and freedom business then just the sake of the “right”. . .
Might the idea of responsibility come attached to our rights and freedoms?
Might a moral responsibility to others not play a role?

Just because we can do and or say something, does that necessarily make it right?
Just because they’re “bad” does that make us better and therefore affording us the “freedom to say whatever we want when and how we want?

Yes, I agree. . .I’m mad. How dare they, whoever they are, or anyone for that matter, “hack” us (as in Sony, and all things Hollywood, now seem to represent everything we stand for as according to the news) with an insidious attempt to intimidate, threaten and cripple.
How dare they threaten us, or any other nation for that matter.
Of course we keep telling ourselves that we are America, therefore we are better than them, whoever “them” is, and we, as Americans, always take the high road on the world stage, right?
We are the good guys.
So how dare they do this to us.

Yet if we are supposedly the good guys and they, whoever they are, are the bad guys, does that not mean there should be some sort of moral approach associated with taking the proverbial high road and of being the good and better of the two?
So perhaps the making of movies that depict, albeit a tongue and cheek, assassination of a world leader, is not exactly taking the high road.
The movie is a parody yes.
Something made to poke fun of.
Not making any attempt to use any bit of “make believe” or masking of the true identity of the real country when creating the story line, allowing viewers to come to their own conclusions as to who was the intended subject, the script writers rather took the bold approach of straight up writing a farce about sending a couple of idiots to kill a real world leader, albeit a bad guy world leader.
Somehow I don’t see the humor in that.

The North Korean Government is indeed part of the bad guys on the world stage–there is no doubt about that, however making fun of them or any other evil leader and / or country in our movies, doesn’t seem to lessen their menacing regime and the very real threat they pose on a global scale—try getting South Korea to laugh as they live under the North’s bullying threats on a daily basis.

I fear Hollywood may have forgotten that there was never an ending to the Korean War, which was actually known as a police action, as there was merely a “cease fire”— which means, in the odd twisted mind of North Korea, they are still at war. . .and perhaps, like a hornets nest, it is not wise to take a stick to the nest, banging on it, antagonizing said hornets. Yet sadly we allow our bravado and ego to give courage to our taunting of the hornets.

A moral conscious obligation.

When we Americans learned of the harsh and perceived inhumane tactics conducted by our National Security and Intelligent communities towards our enemies, we were heard to shout “that is not us, we are better than that! This is America, we are the good guys!”

It seems as if we want to task our Government and Governmental Agencies with the responsibility of doing the “right” thing by others. . .yet. . .
should we also not also demand and task other aspects of our society with the same responsibility of a moral high ground? Such as our entertainment industry?
Humor is one thing but when it is cruel, invokes murder plots, underhandedness, lies. . .it seems to somehow lose the humor—especially when we think of the very real human lives which have been lost to this and other “evil” nations throughout the history of wars, tortures and captivity.

Are we not a nation tasked with setting the ultimate example of what it is to live in a nation steeped in democracy and the freedoms and liberties that come with that democracy? Should we not take such responsibility seriously and understand that being “free” comes with a moral obligation and deep responsibility not only to ourselves but to others around the globe? We are the standard bearer of democracy and what it is to live in a free nation— therefore we are expected to do the right thing by ourselves and others, respecting the mantle that has been placed upon our humbled shoulders.

Perhaps we need to reconsider what it means to lead and what it means to be a global example of freedom, remembering that with such gifts and “rights” come grave responsibility—not to do and say whatever we please rather sophomorically out of our arrogance or based upon ego but rather we are to be the example of living out an entrusted responsibility–one entrusted to us for over 200 years.

I rather think any Korean War veteran who fought, was wounded, or to those countless soldiers who lost their lives fighting, would ask that we remember what it is to be a part of this very nation, the country of freedom and democracy, the very things they fought and scarified everything for by setting an example to the rest of the world.

Sadly I know there are those who will argue that our ability to make such idiotic movies and to then see said idiotic movies is all a part of our rights and freedoms, of which I agree, saying that yes it is—but I also then say that just because we can doesn’t make it wise or right. May we be the examples who rise above petty humor and parody, who rise above ego and arrogance, as we take the high road being the example of responsibility to and with our freedoms and liberties.

Rights to entertainment or moral obligation, that’s the real question.