The Joy of Not Giving a Rat's Ass - OZY | A Modern Media Company

The Joy of Not Giving a Rat's Ass

The Joy of Not Giving a Rat's Ass

By Eugene S. Robinson


Don’t. See if we care.

By Eugene S. Robinson

In David Mamet’s 1992 film paean to a certain kind of amorality, Glengarry Glen Ross, Al Pacino’s character, Ricky Roma, gives a sales pitch. Really, it’s a tour de force of Luciferian doublespeak that marches, precisely, through a liquor-sloshed night with his would-be mark. “Bad people go to hell? I don’t think so,” Roma intones. “You think that, act that way … I won’t.”

But Roma is reserving his right to follow his nature and — more importantly — his right not to care. Or to quote Public Enemy’s piquantly titled tune “Can’t Do Nuttin’ for Ya Man”: “Flavor Flav got problems of his own.”

Which is to say, very specifically, that I don’t care. And I think that’s OK. Most people do not. From the uproar over anything Kardashian to Syrian refugees and whether or not they should be allowed in to the risings at just about anything out of the piehole of Master of Uncomfortable Ceremonies hair master Donald Trump, there is, in my mind, a misplaced sense that your beliefs, our beliefs, should be respected. Ostensibly, this notion of mutual respect has philosophical underpinnings: “Our government was created to safeguard the interests of people with divergent beliefs,” argues Abram Hall, an East Coast insurance exec. “So asking that you respect mine is not only polite but how our streets are not battle worn.” Good points all. And still: I do not care. 

Indeed, I can’t think of any clear-cut reason why I should, outside of keeping the streets from running with blood. And that’s a good enough reason, until friends and neighbors describe the next mass murderer, post-murder spree, as “quiet” or “polite,” and you start to see that there’s no correlation between being agreeable and keeping the streets from running with blood.

Don’t dare call this apathy. I feel quite passionately about any number of things, but what I don’t feel is that I deserve a measured hearing on anything going on inside my head. Or rather: on everything going on inside my head. No matter what the outrage-generating Facebook says. Which, yes, is pretty funny for a guy whose stock in trade is a sort of neo–Andy Rooney–esque pique via the Eugenious Series.

But for some backup, we turned to Professor David Owens, whose area of focus in organizational studies, ethics and social responsibility at Vanderbilt, positions him as someone who knows a few things about a few things. Should I care what other people believe? Should we care, as a society? Nah, he says, if the beliefs are “simply shibboleths absent any real meaning.” Then again, he says, ”what we believe makes us work better, and you know some things are productive to actually believe in.”

Or at least I think that’s what he said.


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