Lollipops and Brutal Honesty

I just saw a short piece on TikTok – well, they are all short, right. That’s the idea. Minimal interaction and commitment. On to the next person trying to create a brand. But I digress.

A piece by a funny person who jokes – but aren’t all jokes serious? I think Freud said that but we aren’t supposed to listen to him anymore – but I digress. Jokes about doctors and the whole process of becoming a doctor. Pulling apart the idiosyncrasies of the different specialties. This one was about pediatrics. The psychologist said that he needed to spend more time with adults. That he was suggesting childish activities, like giving his staff lollipops and snacks, and it wasn’t appropriate.

Why should I, the pediatrician finally said. I paraphrase here –  What’s so great about adults? They kill each other, and make the world a worse place for their children.


There was also a part about children and their brutal honesty.

People without children do seem to continue to believe their own bs. And applaud others in the same position. That is true.

But, I digress.

We watch the war, and we wait. We pray that there are adults in the room. In a way, politics makes us all children – hoping that there will be someone who takes charge, does the right thing, makes us believe that their words about valuing life and freedom mean something. Someone who values us and who protects us.

Instead, usually we get abusive narcissists, like Trump, Putin, and the lower level sycophants who are attracted to and are desperate for power. And we suffer.

Have abusive behavior and lust for power become endemic? I look around where I work and I see a similar scenario being played out. Zero leadership, poor decision making, pushing out those with understanding. Constant low-level nastiness, patronizing behavior. They insult others, and look at me to see if I will say anything. They say that unions create workers who only care about being paid. They discuss plans to remove people from their jobs. When will I speak out?

But in this society, money is everything. Being in is more important than anything. Approval by the masses. And from that we see almost unthinkable failures of leadership, as when the republican party declines to speak up against outright white supremacism and lies. When a Supreme Court judge is corrupt. When a former president steals classified documents and conceals phone records.

I used to admire the big houses, and the fancy restaurants. Now it seems they are filled with criminals and cheats, liars, and sycophants, or at best, delusions of grandeur and a sense that all that matters is having enough money.

How much is enough? Enough to pay the electric bill? Enough to build your own rocket to go to space?

I was watching a video on the new Elizabeth line opening up in London. Yes, it’s been on the table for decades, and the actual construction has stretched over a decade. The UK has many problems, most self-inflicted. But in this there is evidence of planning, foresight. It’s beautifully clean, fast – capable of transporting people from one side of the capital to the other in a ridiculously fast time. Even if the main objective may be to extend the area of affordable housing ever further away from the center.

The contrast with New York City can’t be ignored. The subway here takes an hour to go almost anywhere. There are delays. It’s filthy, overcrowded, filled with homeless people – who are now being brutalized, their attempts at homebuilding dismantled. A photo op of cardboard boxes and blankets being carted away from wasteland under the BQE. As if that will help, Mr. Mayor. Really? Where do you think they are going to go? Wait – I know. The subways.

The bankers, who seem to be paying the new mayor to be a false front, want everyone back in midtown NYC buying overpriced food and goods. That will save them. Not the city. A friend saw a guy shooting up into his hand on the steps to the subway on the way to work.

The man beaten up while getting breakfast. The woman attacked with a hammer. The people pushed in front of trains.

The hate crimes.

I was at a meeting where a faculty member said, we need coffee back – then people will want to come in.

That’s got to be one hell of a coffee if it erases your memory of a needle puncturing an already shot vein, on the filthy stairs coming up from tunnels and platforms filled with people just trying to get to work, stepping over the garbage, the piss, the dead rats. Where are the childish dreams of making it in the big city now?

Yet it is nothing compared to the suffering of Ukraine. It’s not so far away. Have you seen the pictures of civilians, shot, lying dead in the streets, their hands tied behind their backs? Woman brutalized and raped. Families murdered. The reality.

As with the concentration camps, are we waiting for some absolute proof? Some target number?

It is the young people who are leading. Greta Thunberg. Malala Yousafzai.

The not as young, but heroic Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Fighting for a future that means something.

I’ll take the lollipop and a person that believes in children any day.

Oh look, Microsoft told me there were sensitive geopolitical references in this bit of writing. Thanks, top shareholders of Microsoft – Satya Nadella, Bradford L. Smith, Jean-Philippe Courtois, Vanguard Group Inc., BlackRock Inc. (BLK), and State Street Corp.

Good to know.

©Alice Severin 2022