More and more, I relate to Grumpy


Dopey was my favorite dwarf until recently. But now it’s Grumpy who appeals to me. My next purchase will be socks that proudly declare that I’m a grouchy grandpa.

To begin: I believe that fast editing causes brain damage. That loud ads that use such words as “now!” and “you deserve!” and “hurry!,” and that ignore the distinctions between “like” and “as,” and print “its” and “it’s” without distinction, are doing dangerous and irreversible damage to democracy.

I’m not even kidding in this rant. I would go so far as to assert that spell-check is lowering the level of American intelligence.

I can no longer bear to be in a room with a television and an audience uncertain of what to watch. The very jumping from one choice to another seems to me a perilous position, and I leave the chamber and climb the stairs to my solitude, where I continue my pleasantly lonely pursuit of thought, memory, consideration of an idea or the hunt for a lost thought.

If it were a summer month, I might be contemplating a butterfly that briefly disappears and then silently returns to a vine. But in crazy March, with its hares and its Hamans and its robins tucking their heads under their wings in the barn, I have only the Purim megillah to consider.

It is a Purim custom to leave a little treat on the doorstep of a neighbor. This reminds the household, if it happens to be connected to the tale of the hidden Esther, cousin of Mordecai, that there is tsuris ahead, so have a drink and a treat now, and put on a costume, but hold on to your Jewish identity and stand fast with its fables and its facts.

American Jews are in trouble! We must summon the stubborn strength to stand up and be strong in the face of all forms of bigotry against us.

From the left, as from the right, there are ever-new dangers to our collective identity. I even have a conspiracy theory: it’s the computer itself! It knows too much about each of us! I hate having to depend on computers, when in my boyhood, for one penny, I could reach out to the world. All I needed was a pen or a pencil.

So, think about your own life: Are we really better off with what we label “progress,” or, on the contrary, have we sold our birthright citizenship for the plastic conveniences of an overwrapped teabag?

Our world is now run by bosses who can hardly read a book, or a poem, or even tell a good slow Jewish joke.

MIKE FINK ( teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design.