Respect those in charge! One of the first orders barked at me in Navy boot camp was: If it moves, salute it. If it doesn’t move, paint it. Earlier as an orphanage kid, obedience to elders was constantly hammered into my naive little head.
Through the growing-up and Navy years, I was brainwashed to fear and revere teachers, clergy, cops, generals, admirals, royalty and politicians. Also included on my worship list were various other noble beings who were far superior to unimportant and humble me.
I’ve long since dumped all that baggage. Movie humor genius Mel Brooks once said, “Life literally abounds in comedy if you just look around you.” Today, in my advanced old age, I fully agree with him. The human barnyard pecking order we’re forced to obey is, although too often tragically unfunny, a human comedy.
Why should we enjoy the comedy? Everyone must face the inevitable human tragedy awaiting each of us. So, while we’re still here and kicking, we should get as much humor as possible out of it. Go for the laughs while still able to do your brief standup routine on Earth’s comedy stage.
During the many years since my childhood indoctrination, I eventually realized that even the greatest presidents, priests and pop stars were as weakly human as I and also needed to go to the toilet several times a day. Am I shocked at what happens to squeaky-pure clergy and politicians when their private lives and privates are exposed?
My history includes toiling at a company for more than a quarter of a century. During those years, I gradually lost all respect for some of the grossly overpaid and overrated executives. I had to deal with them when I planned and produced major awards conferences throughout the U.S., Canada and Caribbean.
I wrote scripts and continuity for events that were presented in hotel auditoriums and theaters. They included (hopefully) inspiring speeches for executives to deliver to large audiences of employees and families. The executives merely had to read the 15- to 30-minute speeches (no teleprompters yet) and make them sound authentic. Fortunately for me and my efforts, a few intelligent and sober ones did exactly that, and I could feel pride in my creative accomplishments. However, too many others, neither intelligent nor sober, stumbled and mumbled through my words.
Worst of all, the reality that they were being paid 10 times my salary still bothers me today. I can try to laugh about it now, but the memories come back when I see even more insane pay doled out to some of the world’s most undeserving. They include incompetent CEOs, crooked politicians, arrogant pro athletes, hammy actors, faux musicians and many, many others.
Maybe my biggest and most bitter laugh relates to military leaders, not only of today, but those from all the way back to the dawn of our so-called civilization. They’re usually pompous, fat and overpaid old guys all gussied up in silly uniforms. They wear chests full of medals earned by ordering young guys to go kill or get killed by other young guys.
As one of those young guys who served in two long-ago wars, I must laugh about it now, because weeping only results in watering down my joy of retirement life. And, of course, tear drops also water down my beer.
Ted Sherman is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine. He will turn 90 on Aug. 8. He’s a U.S. Navy vet who served in World War II and the Korean War, and after a lifetime of writing for other people, he’s now sharing his opinions with the world at large for various publications and on his blog 90 Is The New Black. It’s a daily rant on current news, sports, health, travel, careers, entertainment, sports, relationships and, of course, problems of advanced age.