Work of Art - ‘Everyone on your list’

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By Art Trujillo

“If you’re against child abuse, forward this message to everyone on your email list.”

All right. Done!

Actually not. I needed to think about the message, which appeared on my Facebook page, and presumably on the page of all my Facebook “friends.”

Let’s see: This morning I awoke early, and with a bit of difficulty dragged my almost-74-year-old body out of bed and got ready to face the day. Whoever said, “Now that you’re retired, you’ll have lots of time to rest up, to take it easy” had obviously never been retired.

And with age comes an increasing necessity to write things down. And too often I’ve found myself returning to the house from the driveway to recover something I’d forgotten, and then forgotten what I went to retrieve. Sound familiar?

Part of this early-morning drama deals with my actually having written in my little black book: “I am in favor of child abuse.” I wrote that sentence, looked at the configurations of the orthography and wondered, as I tore up the piece of paper, “What’s their problem?”

Why am I (and presumably many others) being asked to reveal an innermost thought?

Who, besides Jeffrey Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy Jr., would ever admit favoring child abuse? And whose business is it anyway to ask such a question?

I just don’t believe people get up in the morning intent on abusing some children. They certainly don’t radiate any such intentions on a public forum like Facebook. But the bigger problem, in my view, rests with those who have the effrontery to pose such a question.

Does the collector of the yes-no data come up with a final “score,” a tally of the yesses and nos, and are the rest of us privy to such information?

It’s not solely an issue of child abuse but of the implicit going along with a process that reveals too much information about us, if we tacitly approve.

A former student, of a denomination different from mine, isn’t corresponding anymore after I replied (yes, nastily!) to her post — sent to dozens of us — that asked us to declare our love for Christ, by making little marks on a check list.

As a bonus, we all were promised that once we reached the end of the mini-questionnaire, we’d receive a reward within five days. Insert all the “right” answers and you get your prize in only three days.

My reply to the sender of the email that promised temporal and eternal rewards wasn’t very nice. Whereas she had added that she hoped her post would yield 100 percent positive answers — and that’s not counting the thousands connected pyramid-style through all the friending — she got at least one defector: me.

I simply wrote back that my relationship with Christ is personal and that I don’t believe the Lord is checking what people send through the blogosphere.

So, she hasn’t communicated with me since then, even though I was used to getting a note from her every couple of days.

I’m sure my former correspondent meant well, and by my rejection thinks less of me. Still, I wonder by what authority, by what mandate people feel free to 1) urge us to respond, 2) urge us to forward the letter to the hundreds on our friends list and 3) include the assurance of an extra-credit bonus, in the form of wealth, health, eternal life.

In previous columns I’ve written about not-so-veiled threats toward those of us who “break the chain” electronically and Facebookially. One blogger had the effrontery to call us cowards in advance if we ignored the post.

There are simply too many cases in which those who sent the email to us are second- or third- or even 20th-generation recipients of the do-you-love-Jesus? email.

A few years back, many of us received an email claiming that a new dollar coin failed to carry the words “In God We Trust.” So miffed was the originator of the email that were he to receive such a pagan coin, he said, he’d throw it back at the source.

He hadn’t noticed that the words he failed to find were stamped along the edge, not on the flat surface of the coin. We wonder how many other urgent appeals that float through cyberspace are based on incomplete or erroneous information.

• • •

One of the flashiest police cars in town, usually seen in the Mills Avenue area, is jet black, with the word “Police” in large white letters on the sides. The vehicle is certainly visible.

Now government vehicles carry government plates. And that makes one wonder whether the driver of the flashy new squad car fears that some city cop might pull him over for displaying only a commercial plate that carries the advertisement for Bob Turner Ford Country.

No bull!    

• • •

Why do people think of school work as merely a cafeteria where people can pick up a carry-out meal? In my naivete as a young teacher, I was surprised at how common it had become for students who missed class to calmly ask for a copy of the assignment for the next day.

Let’s see if we have this straight. I spend hours working up lessons for you and your 24 classmates, and by the simple act of grabbing a piece of paper, prepared especially for you, we expect you to meet today’s goals. Hmmm.

If New Mexico House Bill 300 becomes law, requests for yesterday’s homework assignment will become even more common. The bill would allow extra excused absences for expectant student parents. After the child is born, the young parents would be allowed as many as 10 excused absences, with the understanding that the students themselves arrange for makeup work.

Let’s not overlook the distinction New Mexico already owns of having the second-highest teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. The state’s rate is 53 births per 1,000 teenagers. The national average is 34.2.

Art Trujillo is a copy editor at the Optic and a contributing member of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. He may be reached at 505-425-6796, ext. 234, art@rezio.net or atrujillo@lasvegasoptic.com.