I am an avid fan of the Firesign Theatre, a comedy troop which came to light in the late 1960's. Their humor was considered rather avant-garde even for this turbulent period in our history. You couldn't find them on television or in the movies, and rarely would their comedy be broadcast over the radio waves. Instead, it was primarily distributed in vinyl form (good old 33rpm records) and appealed primarily to college students who treated it like an underground movement. Today, their comedy has attained cult status, not just for its humor but as a great parody of the times and their prophetic vision of the future. Their first album, "Waiting for the Electrician or Someone like Him" (1968) includes a satirical tale of the future based on the values of the psychedelic sixties. In particular, there is one track involving two police officers of the future traveling together in their patrol car. As part of their duties, they have to check to see if all of the citizens are "groovy." If a citizen looks suspicious, the police would stop them, ask them some pointed questions to determine their grooviness, what drugs they were carrying, as well as to check their clothing and body paint. If the citizen wasn't compliant, he/she would be "taken away for regrooving" which meant a massive reorientation to bring them up to date with the times. In the story, the people become so overtly groovy that underground study cells begin to emerge whereby students began to read books and discuss major issues of the day, all to the horror of their parents and teachers.
Lately I have begun to feel like one of the older pedestrians in the story, as I am sure I no longer appear to be "groovy" and in need of a major update. For example, I no longer know all of the names of today's musical artists and motion picture stars. I still say "actors" and "actresses" as opposed to just "actors"; "pictures" as opposed to "movies"; and "Ethyl" and "Hi-Test" as opposed to "Premium" gasoline. Although I grew up in the digital age, I still appreciate analog technology which makes me think I'm in desperate need of some "regrooving."
Not long ago I gave a couple of talks at the local High School. I deliberately chose to wear a suit and tie that day as opposed to a casual look. With rare exception, the students looked shabby and grungy, not to mention undisciplined. Please keep in mind the students come from some rather affluent families in the area. While I was speaking, I got the uneasy feeling the students were there more for me to teach them as opposed to them being there to learn. In other words, the teaching experience was unidirectional in nature, from me to them. I don't consider this a healthy educational environment as the student has to at least be willing to put forth effort to learn.
Although I think I made some progress with several students and the teachers present, I got the uneasy feeling the students considered me to be a dinosaur and definitely not "groovy." Normally when someone feels like time is passing them by, you make an effort to bring your skills and perspectives up-to-date, an attitude readjustment if you will. I'm not sure I can do this anymore and let me explain why. I don't have a problem with technology and fashion passing me by, but to properly "regroove" myself, it will be necessary to reappraise and adjust my moral values, and herein lies the problem. I still believe in such things as common courtesy, such as holding a door open for people, to say "please" and "thank you," and to volunteer my time to help others. I like to tuck my shirt into my pants and would be mortified if my underwear was exposed. I still appreciate the genius of classical music, the taste of a good glass of scotch and a fine cigar, and I still believe in such antiquated concepts as honor and respect, discipline, citizenship, patriotism, and doing unto others as I would have others do unto me, etc.
To properly upgrade I must alter my sense of right and wrong and, frankly, this is something I cannot bring myself to do. Maybe as creatures of habit we get too comfortable with our daily routine, but I do not think this is the case as I can (and have) changed habits many times over the years. No, this is more about my perception of right and wrong as ingrained in me, and something quite difficult to change, if not impossible. To change a person in this manner means to change his very essence as a human being. It would be like asking an honest person to wrong, cheat and defraud others, which is something he cannot do with a clear conscious.
In order to change my values requires me to admit everything I had done previously was incorrect, that I had lived a big lie, and a disservice to everyone I had come in contact with over the years. That is a bitter pill to swallow no matter who you are. No, instead I do not believe I'll allow myself to be "taken away for regrooving" and suffer the consequences, if there be any. Instead I'll have to start one of those underground study cells and hope for the best.
Keep the Faith!
Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.
Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For Tim's columns, see:
Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.
Tune into Tim's THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).
Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.