Friday, June 27, 2008

Rules to live by (first published Dominion Post and Press, June 24)

Twenty-five rules for a righteous and contented life:

Never be awed by people with impressive-sounding academic qualifications. The world is full of highly educated twerps.

Refuse to buy anything from a shop or café that insists on bombarding you with obnoxious noise.

Never allow yourself to be seen running for a bus. It’s undignified.

Don’t hesitate to walk out of a bad movie; life’s too short. You usually know within the first 10 minutes whether it’s going to be worth persevering.

Be courteous but firm with telemarketers. Tell them you’re sorry, but your mother-in-law is on fire and you don’t have time to talk.

Don’t trust journalists who boast of being cynics, as if this were a virtue. Sceptics demand to be convinced – an honourable attribute. But cynics believe the worst of human nature and assume ulterior motives for everything – a very bleak worldview.

Life is too short to keep up with new music. It’s more fun to rediscover the old.

Treat fashion as the absurdity it is, created primarily to exploit insecure people who lack confidence in their own taste and right to dress as they think fit.

Be tolerant toward habitual stirrers and activists, no matter how irritating they might be. They are the price we pay for living in a free society.

Don’t condemn religion out of hand. Better to be a kid growing up in a Destiny Church household where there’s a cooked dinner on the table every night and a father in work than one living in a P house where you might be lucky to get KFC on benefit day.

Never trust a man with a ponytail.

Don’t waste your precious time reading venomous opinions, such as some of those on Internet blogs, whose authors are too gutless to put their names to them.

Be suspicious of anyone with personalised number plates, unless it happens to be your brother-in-law.

Don’t be ashamed to be seen eating at McDonald’s. The sausage-and-egg McMuffin with a hash brown is a tastier and cheaper breakfast than you’ll get at most trendy cafes.

Remonstrate with people who drop litter in public or allow their dogs to foul parks and footpaths, even if you risk a bit of biffo. (This rule is probably safer for old ladies, but not necessarily.)

Accept that there are almost as many bigoted atheist zealots as there are religious ones.

Make a point of visiting Parliament at least once to observe the sheer concentration of vanity and infantilism on display there. No one ever said democracy’s perfect.

Keep at arm’s length men who dress up in strange clothes and indulge in odd, all-male rituals, such as freemasons, Ku Klux Klansmen, scoutmasters and clerics.

Relish the prospect of boasting on your deathbed that you never wasted a moment watching a reality TV programme.

Give thanks for the fact that they didn’t have closed-circuit TV that day you set fire to the Waipukurau Post Office fence.

Distrust ideology in any shape or form. No matter how perfect the idea, humans will always stuff it up.

Always read the birth and death notices. They remind us what an intimately connected society we are.

Never trust an academic who uses words like “paradigm”, “construct” (in its noun form), “narrative”, “discourse” or “post-structural”. These are terms that should activate even the most low-powered BS detector.

Disregard the lifelong propaganda that teaches us all discrimination is bad. Discrimination is just as often good – it’s what enables us to distinguish between good and bad. We need more of it.

Observe traditional male courtesies such as opening the door for a woman. Even some feminists appreciate such gestures, though they rarely admit it.

Never trust a newspaper columnist who pronounces 25 rules for a righteous and contented life, especially if he can’t count.


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Deborah Coddington said...

Oh so it was you who tried to burn down the Ypuk post office! And they tried to blame me!

Karl du Fresne said...

Fortunately my mother, who could be pretty forceful despite standing only five foot two, talked the local police sergeant out of bringing a charge of wilful damage against me in the Children's Court. I was about 12 at the time.