Sign. Sign. Everywhere a Sign.

There is something about the rebellious soul that is so vibrant, so smirky, so quick to see contradictions, they can cause us great discomfort. They reflect back our simplistic and sometimes nonsensical notions, our blindness to our own bigotries, our selective sense of right from wrong that has us follow one sign but not the other, and our duplicitous impulse toward saying one thing and acting another. Like an itch, the rebellious, the cultural critics among us, have an insatiable need to scratch and ask ‘why?’

And the sign said
“Long-haired freaky people
Need not apply”
So I tucked my hair up under my hat
And I went in to ask him
why

It’s a useful thing to ask ‘why?’ When we do so, we typically expect a factual answer, or at the least, an opinion, or a pinch of both. Since we asked ‘why?’, it is up to us to interpret and separate fact from BS, actual knowledge from opinion, and to settle on something that might be useful to us. That is a necessary capacity for thriving. We get there by taking in all sorts of notions, opinions, and nonsense.

But for many today, even old rebellious rock-n-rollers who once shook their full thick beautiful hair to their own drumbeat, are not pleased with people asking ‘why?’. They just wish us to accept an answer like a curious child who must grow silent and accept an answer from an impatient parent. “Because that’s just the way it is, dear. Now go play.”

Some of these old boomers have joined up with our cultural thought enforcers, the elites, and the social media purveyors, to shush us from daring to ask ‘why?’. That is what songwriter and performer Neil Young did when he stamped his feet as in a hissy fit and issued ultimatums demanding that those who do ask ‘why’ of those who hold facts and opinions which differ from their own, be muzzled. He was then joined by a few others. Why?

We collectively scratch our flabby butt cheeks in an attempt to understand why an old rebeller and former advocate of free speech like Mr. Young would ever consider silencing the speech of the likes of Joe Rogan. Joe Rogan has a very popular podcast with millions of listeners where he actually lets guests talk and fully explain themselves. So broad-minded is Mr. Rogan, he’s interviewed everyone from socialist Bernie Sanders to clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson to atheist Sam Harris. He treats everyone with respect and nearly every question starts with a ‘why.’

Rogan’s greatest sin might be surviving a bout of COVID and claiming the use of a controversial drug proved effective. Off with his vocal cords!

In unison, Mr. Young is joined by a former duke from Britain who has no area of expertise, the spokes-dudette for the President, the head of WHO, and fact-checker/makers for social media, all shouting- MISINFORMATION!

WHO, the World Health Organization is so upset with ‘misinformationalist,’ they’ve set up a webpage to report evildoers. The notion that others might have insight, intelligence, credentials, experience, actual knowledge, a unique perspective, and God forbid, an opinion, is all too much for these sign makers- the gatekeepers of the ‘greater good.’ We are told to keep quiet and to go outside and play- with our masks on. Obey the signs!

He said, “You look like a fine upstandin’ young man
I think you’ll do”
So I took off my hat and said, “Imagine that
Huh, me workin’ for you”
Whoa

Children, with their pure innate curiosity, love to ask ‘why.’ With a world view not yet fully formed, they are not burdened by only learning things that confirm their biases. They’re open to learning everything. We adults, when presented with information that is counter to our intuition or hoped for conclusions, grow brittle and turn away from contrarian perspectives. Some, particularly those who believe they are in some way enlightened well beyond you or I appear to grow angry. They prefer we not ask complicated questions but blindly accept their conclusions. With impertinent impatience, they either lack the conviction or the actual knowledge to present their arguments with respect preferring to slap a label on anyone asking ‘why.’

Perhaps that is why it is so disappointing to see our idols from years past lose their rebellious sense of curiosity. With economic power that came with their success and decades of name familiarity, they’ve joined with those who wish only one acceptable narrative to all our contemporary woes. Maybe they’ve always been partisan political animals. When did the drums lose their beat?

Today, our angst, curiosity, and name-calling surround the question of COVID, the lockdowns, government mandates, vaccines, its origins, and the end game. Tomorrow, we’ll be confronted with the next great existential threat- global warming.

Hopefully, we have grown wiser as to those who covet power using all means necessary. When a media preening bureaucrat claims he speaks for science, we’ll roll our eyes knowing we’ve heard that before. When a pop-tart or a movie star, or sports hero claims but years left till we melt in some sort of man-made hellfire, or drown because Greenland once again sprouts grasslands, we’ll have first-hand experience with those who see some benefit in creating fear in our children.

The climate doomsters will again roll out images of a hurricane the size of the Atlantic Ocean reminiscent of blue grapefruit-sized multi-tentacled virus strands floating menacingly around outdoor playgrounds. Then from the depths of a basement on some university campus comes reams of computer climate models full of red flashing lights and hockey sticks showing nothing but doom, we’ll reflect on the various predictions made during the COVID pandemic.

Perhaps a younger Neil Young or a Joni Mitchell will appear on the world stage. He or she will rock back against the arrogance that accompanies fame and fortune. They will turn a mirror on those who have grown stiff by an inflated sense of moral superiority and have become the person they used to sing about.

Now, hey you, mister, can’t you read?
You got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat
You can’t even watch, no, you can’t eat
You ain’t supposed to be here

The sign said, “You’ve got to have a membership card
To get inside”
Uh

I was privileged to grow up among the tall timber of uncles and aunts who saw some thread of purpose engaging with a little snot-nosed nephew. They thought it important to pass down what they could and patiently gave my curiosity time- time that encouraged the asking of questions and the confidence to take a place in the brave new world. I am forever grateful for their time.

“Why do cows have udders, Uncle?”

“What is a snipe?”

“Where does yarn come from?”

“Are we there yet?”

“Why?”

The Five Man Electrical Band

From Ottawa, The Five Man Electrical Band took delightful aim at some of our more notorious cultural roadsigns with this 1971 hit. Signs.

And the sign said
“Long-haired freaky people
Need not apply”
So I tucked my hair up under my hat
And I went in to ask him why
He said, “You look like a fine upstandin’ young man
I think you’ll do”
So I took off my hat and said, “Imagine that
Huh, me workin’ for you”
Whoa

Sign, sign
Everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery
Breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign?

And the sign said
“Anybody caught trespassin’
Will be shot on sight”
So I jumped on the fence and I yelled at the house
“Hey! What gives you the right
To put up a fence to keep me out
But to keep Mother Nature in?
If God was here, he’d tell you to your face
‘Man, you’re some kind of sinner’”

Sign, sign
Everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery
Breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign?

Now, hey you, mister, can’t you read?
You got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat
You can’t even watch, no, you can’t eat
You ain’t supposed to be here

The sign said, “You’ve got to have a membership card
To get inside”
Uh

And the sign said
“Everybody welcome
Come in, kneel down and pray”
But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all
I didn’t have a penny to pay
So I got me a pen and a paper
And I made up my own little sign
I said, “Thank you, Lord, for thinkin’ ‘bout me
I’m alive and doin’ fine”
Woo!

Sign, sign
Everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery
Breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign?

Sign, sign
Everywhere a sign

--

--

--

Medium rare and a bit aged. Husband, father and grandfather. I write to untangle my thinking. I recommend it to others. ronaldbaron.com — bloominboomer.com

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

“How do you do so many things?

5 Ways To Thrive During Divorce and Become The Stronger Divorcée

Attention!

9 Common Sense Life Lessons I Learned Far Too Late in Life

What we can do to words

52 Habits to Change My Life

Becoming the Übermensch: Month 2 Day 9

Is There Hope For The Future?

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ron Baron

Ron Baron

Medium rare and a bit aged. Husband, father and grandfather. I write to untangle my thinking. I recommend it to others. ronaldbaron.combloominboomer.com

More from Medium

Vernon Nickerson Schoolcoach Uncovers Game-Changing Historical Connection to American Systems of…

Political Talk or Political TV

Group of televisions

To the South Pole — On a Farm Tractor

A map drawing on Antarctica showing the route of the Trans Antarctic expedition as a purple line across the white continent.

Holocausts, Critical Race Theory and Banning Books: Time for Reality Check !