The culture of celebrity . . .

The culture of celebrity . . .

Following the advice of Marie Curie, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.” I seek understanding.

A celebrity, like a flash in the Canadian political pan, popped up on stage with former prime minister Paul Martin a while back. Where is he now? we wondered. And, as if on celebrity command came this tale from a friend.

Bono, the story goes, the lead singer of the Irish rock band U2, is famous throughout the entertainment industry for being more than just a little self-righteous. Apparently, at a U2 concert in Glasgow he asked the audience for total quiet.

Then, in the silence, he started to slowly clap his hands, once every few seconds. Holding the audience in total silence, he said into the microphone, “Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies.’”

From the front of the crowd a voice with a broad Scottish accent pierced the quiet. “Well, for God’s sake, stop doing it then, you evil son-of-a-gun.”

There we have it, another example of a celebrity saving us, the planet too, I suppose. I’m on the side of the Scotsman. Every time I listen to wealthy folk on the public platform preaching to me, I wonder if they’ve ever read the old adage, “He who has given a kindness should be silent; it is he who has received a kindness who should speak of it.”

Fortunately for us, and the world, there are countless not so common, common people, who, despite their lack of wealth giving wisdom, have given more by living with that adage and companion beliefs. They give more than money, they give of themselves, they seek not fame, they live and give.

A man named Teilhard de Chardin says it better than I: “Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, and gravity, we shall harness the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, humankind will have discovered fire.”

So perhaps we should seek to become politically correct.

I suppose it’s not politically correct to doubt the wisdom of celebrities, but I do. Instead I turned to politically correct oracles and their latest tongue-in-cheek decrees: Albertans will no longer be referred to as “rednecks.” They shall be called Rocky Mountain-Prairie Canadians. For the general populace, he does not have a beer gut, he has developed a liquid grain storage facility; nor is he a bad dancer, he’s overly Caucasian. He does not get lost all the time, he investigates alternative destinations and, finally one to fit under my hat, he is not balding, he is in follicle regression.

I am now wiser although some imponderable questions hold me firmly in their grip: Why don’t we ever see the headline “Psychic Wins Lottery”? Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes? Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour? Why can’t women put on mascara with their mouths closed? Why does the sun lighten our hair, but darken our skin? Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker? Why don’t they make the whole airplane out of the stuff they make that indestructible black box from? Why is it that giant company executives get financial bailouts, still get bonuses for failing, while the working men and women sacrifice wages and benefits?

A final question to ponder over the school holidays from a Dr. William J. Riley: “If we were to begin, even in grade school, to teach everyone the simple lessons of human relations—just as we teach reading, writing and arithmetic—it would have a profound effect on the world we live in. This task represents perhaps the greatest challenge which education faces today and in centuries to come.”

A tip of the hat to waiting time. Since we are continually told things take time, these might be handy: If you have to wait 1,000 seconds, it’ll be 17 minutes; one million seconds is 11.5 days; 1 billion seconds, 32 years, and 1 trillion seconds 32,000 years.

Hmm, there are about 6,000,000 seconds of summer left. Enjoy!