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Did you ever have to make up your mind?

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

A TRAVELER WRITES: Whose side are you on, anyway? Sound familiar?

We live in a Zero Tolerance Era. For those who don’t realize what that means: The government doesn’t believe that you are smart enough to think, to use your judgment, to make decisions.

(Hint # 1: If you believe that the government knows what is best for you, you just may want to think a little harder.)

We live in the Twitter Era, when you must explain your beliefs and positions in 140 characters or less.

Ever try to share your thoughts on euthanasia or how to raise your children in a violent world in 140 characters? You use expressions like “it’s bad” a lot. No wonder we end up sounding like Forrest Gump.

Bob Michelin

(Hint # 2: You just may want to think a little harder about complying with a rule like that.)

We live in the Checkbox Era, when answers must come fast, simple and easy.

Look no further than those brainless department store surveys. They usually give you three choices to questions like: “How was your overall satisfaction?” ( ___in-freaking-credible ___excellent ___ good-ish).

What if you let me reply that my salesperson smelled like Corn Doodles, didn’t know the difference between Plasma and Paisley, and scratched his butt during the entire transaction? No chance. Marketing firms don’t have time for what you think.

(Hint # 3: You may want to think harder about whom you buy from.)

We live in the Ultimatum Era. Choose your team. My friends cannot understand how I can like Governor Christie AND Cory Booker. If I loved Nirvana, how could I listen to the Foo Fighters? Every day, we are asked to choose: Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth. Mets or Yankees. Democrats or Republicans. Paper or Plastic.

Don’t think — just choose. And don’t flip flop.

(Hey, I like flip-flops. Better to have a flip-flop in office than a sneaker or a loafer …. Sorry. I worked at Thom McAnn as a kid. Old metaphors die hard.)

More than ever, we are being conditioned not to think.

I was brought up Catholic, a religion which traditionally ranks in the Top 5 in restricting thinking. It was always a hoot to ask priests whether they still got buzzed on the wine they changed to blood. Yeah, it may have been sacrilege, but I like to piss arrogant people off.

Many former Catholic friends are now atheist or born-again, which, to me, are the guard rails of organized religion. They often criticize my watered down religious beliefs (which I borrowed from the “Three Bears” – not too strict, not too loose, “just right” for me). Truth is, I like some of the stuff I was taught — but not all.

Too often, I lose friends when their relationship breaks up. They want me to choose between him or her (or him and him or her and her), even though I’d rather be friends with both. What was I thinking — or, more likely, WHY was I thinking?

I had a friend who always used to say: “You’re either with me or against me.” (NOTE: The operative word being “had.”)

When you think about it, there are very few absolutes in life. That’s why I work hard to avoid the words “always” and “never.”

Of course, there are exceptions all around. Thou shall not kill (unless your life is being threatened, of course), for instance. That’s an easy one.

But even my credo “all lawyers suck” needs to be tempered because there are good counselors out there. I haven’t exactly met any yet, but I’m keeping that door open.

After all, as Aretha sang: “You better think!”

Bob Michelin, an account executive from Old Bridge, always has his eyes and ears open, as well as his mind. He writes an occasional column for CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

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