Monday, August 11, 2008

When The Rapture Comes, Please Practice Auto and Bike Safety

There's a T-shirt shop near my house that often displays a shirt that says,


When I see it I often start reflecting on what it would be like to have God come down just for the purposes of checking things out -- you know, seeing how we're doing.

I'm an atheist, and an academic, so when I picture God he's always a cross between a fond parent and an authoritative thesis advisor.

This is corny, but one thing I'd like to show God when he comes is the Olympics. I'm not even into sports, and I know there's a lot not to like about the Olympics, but the whole people-from-everywhere all-coming-together to-play-some-games thing always knocks me out.

Today I was at the gym and the TV was showing men's Beach Volleyball, a match between Brazil and Italy. The Canadian announcers explained that Canada hadn't made the qualifying rounds, so there were no Canadian men competing in this sport. Then they explained that it was very hard to tell how the mostly local, Chinese, crowd was rooting, except when China was actually competing, and so the local guy was trying to get them to show their allegiances.

This is all kind of awesome.

Look, God: Here we have cooperation. Playfulness. Tolerance. Peace. At least for a couple of weeks, in one place. Sorry about the oceans all being full of garbage and all the suffering all, but look, we're trying, OK?

There are so many awful things you'd be ashamed to show God that it's not really fun to think of a list. I was trying to think of something really specific that I'd be embarassed about, on behalf of the human race, in addition to all the big and obvious things, and then I remembered the story in the Times yesterday about the consequences of more bicyclists being on the roads these days.

Horrific. Cars banging into people, running them off the road; drivers intentionally harming cyclists; cyclists refusing to obey the rules; cyclists acting like once they get enough people all together they can rewrite the goddamn rules.

Turns out, news flash: people are in a hurry, and they regard their own business as, like, really important.

Now this is really embarassing. Chaos, mayhem, pain, injury, death, for what exactly? Shaving a few minutes off your commute? No. Sorry. If God is coming, this will make us look seriously ridiculous. Time to act like grownups.

Anyway, after we tour the Olympics, and stay away from the traffic hotspots, I'd like to show God the internet and Wikipedia, which are both incredible sources of cooperation and playfulness. I guess the internet's got a way to go on tolerance and peace, but you know, we're trying. Nobody's perfect. Down here anyway.

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