For 35 years I’ve been a political cartoonist so I know a little bit about false dichotomies. Cartoonists are in the business of depicting current events in black-and-white terms.
But it’s not just cartoonists. The news media in general seems addicted to oversimplification. Current events are routinely painted with the broad brush of dramatic conflict.
Hence, the fiscal cliff. The cliff was a creation of Congress. They could have repealed or amended the legislation that they passed originally, legislation that created the cliff. But the old addiction to drama kicked in and everyone pretended there was a Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner-style cliff looming. Don’t miss a thrill-packed moment as you keep your eyes glued to the screen!
It was a phony setup. Remembering that keeps me more relaxed about a New Year’s resolution we made at our house. We watched a documentary called Vegucated, about three people who adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. For years I had been afraid to go vegan. The horrid conditions for animals on factory farms and in factory slaughterhouses weighed on me, yet I trembled at the thought of taking the plunge. I saw it as a cliff over which I would go tumbling - my cheeseburger-starved, emaciated body eventually thudding down upon a bed of lethally sharp carrots, pointy side up. Impaled by vegetables.
But life’s choices aren’t all or nothing. There is no vegan cliff. Resolutions can be eased into. I’m phasing out meat and dairy a little at a time.
Thank you, Congress, for inadvertently reminding me that I can avoid thinking in your black-and-white, herd mentality. In fact, incrementally, I’m phasing out you cows altogether.