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Dunno

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Dear Waldo,

You're going to think I'm being a smart aleck but I'm not. I really want to know: How come there's so many wars all the time? I'm too big a chicken to be in a war, plus I'm not mad enough at anybody. No other animals I know of have wars. How come we do?

Yours Truly,

Big Chicken

Dear Big Chicken,

You ask a very important question, and a tough one, and I'll do my best to answer it. The other day I read a flyer stapled to a telephone pole. It said, "Looking for housemate. Do you enjoy sharing delicious, home-cooked organic vegetarian meals, gardening, sitting on the front porch watching the seasons change, playing music, doing art, and spending time with people you live with? Would you be excited to have occasional community gatherings such as pot-luck dinners and skill-sharing workshops right in your home? If so, maybe you'd enjoy living in our fun, supportive, energy-efficient cooperative living space." The bottom of the flyer was precut into strips with a phone number written on them, and more than half of the strips -- I'd say eight -- had been torn off by people who might be interested in this opportunity.

Big Chicken, when I tell you that as I read that flyer a loathing rose within me like stagnant steam from a sidewalk subway grid, it is not meant to be a commentary on community housing. No, it is an uneasy confession, and it's meant to inspire the question, What's with Waldo?

What's with Waldo indeed. Why does the idea of watching the seasons change with new chums from his skill-sharing workshop following the veggie pot-luck before the hootenanny make him feel as if his soul, his testicles, his heart, and his brain have all been thrown into a hot saute pan?

I have no answer. I have no idea why I feel this way. I just do. And it's no comfort to know that I'm not alone in this kind of small-minded looniness. Why does my brother get a rash on his neck around Morris Dancers? How come my best friend crosses the street to avoid a mime. What's with despising Neil Diamond? There's no rational answers because we are not rational creatures. We are works in progress, capable of having serious, ugly feelings about people who enjoy Big Mac's, about people who have private jets, about people who pierce their tongues.

If people are capable of becoming passionate in their loathing of Jerry "Mr. Telethon" Lewis, doesn't it take just a few more leaps in lunacy before larger groups of humans, beefed up by a steady diet of misinformation and all jazzed up on paranoia, begin hating them other races?

Say, I got an idea! Let's have a war!

The frustrating thing is, we're wise enough to come up with a simple rule which, if followed faithfully by rational creatures in control of their behavior, would eliminate war completely:

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

It's so astoundingly simple. Do you want someone sticking a bayonet between your ribs? Me either. Then don't stick one between someone else's ribs. What's the problem here? Why are we incapable of obeying such a simple suggestion?

Because we are not rational creatures in control of our actions. We think we are, which is proof we're not. Again and again, if we are really being honest, our best answer to the simple question "Why do you behave like that?" is this: "Dunno. Just do."

Why do you feel that way about vegans? About Mormons? About Asians? About fat people. About Liberals? About people with dreadlocks? Tattoos? Turbans? Foodstamps? Four-car garages?

Why do you why do you why do you?

Dunno dunno dunno.

Just do just do just do.

And so, in conclusion Big Chicken, I guess my best, most honest answer to your good question about why there are so many wars, is this:

Dunno.

Sorry. That's the best I can come up with.

Your Fan,

Waldo Mellon