I’d like to bring up an issue long close to my heart. I’d like to propose a simple truth.
Fact. The world, for its entire history, has been divided in half. There are two species walking this earth — the Jerk and the not-Jerk. Nazis argue that a completely arbitrary thing like RACE is the sensible unit with which to divide humanity, and that some races are better than others. That’s nonsense. But there IS a way to divide up humanity that is not arbitrary and corrupt.
Draw the line. There are people who are Jerks and those who are not.
You know who’s who, too. When you know someone, you either like him or you don’t. If you don’t, there’s a reason for that.
He’s a Jerk.
Jerks: they’re the folks who your dogs growl at — people who are just kind of inexplicably mean. Meter maids, school bullies, middle school math teachers, Republicans. — It’s so clear. You don’t like them for a simple reason. They’re always being real Jerks.
This isn’t an arbitrary division of mankind based on race or sex. I’ve known many Jerks in my life from all sorts of cultural, socioeconomic, ideological backgrounds. I don’t discriminate. If you’re a Jerk, you’re a Jerk and you deserve the label. Oprah is a Jerk. Charlton Heston is a Jerk. You couldn’t get two more different people. They’re similar, though in Jerkiness.
There is a cold war fought every day, and there always has been: The Jerks versus the not-Jerks. An ongoing struggle for power. The Jerks have always wanted power and have always tried to usurp the not-Jerks. They’ve come pretty close to victory a couple times, too. The Huns? Jerks. The Fascists? Jerks. The Toronto Blue Jays? Jerks.
Wars are fought every day, everywhere. Over what? Some Jerk wants something he shouldn’t have, not-Jerks disagree of course, and pretty soon there’s rock-throwing in the streets. It’s just Jerks and not-Jerks, arguing it out everywhere — on the macro- and microcosmic scales.
That cop who pulled you over for doing 65 in a 60 mph zone, he’s a Jerk. If you’re a not-Jerk and he serves you with that ticket, you two tangle. It’s natural. It’s instinctual. You’re fighting the war, too. You may not be aware of it, but you are a warrior.
Not a warrior of good, per se. Not a moral warrior. Certainly not holy. Just not a Jerk. This isn’t the battle between good and evil. I’m not touching that. The United States is waging that battle in the Middle East. Apparently, that’s where the big Evil Castle Fortress is. But that’s a whole other — thing.
The line, unspoken for so long, is drawn. I’ve said it, and I can’t take it back now. It’s been printed. It’s a matter of public record. It’s out on the table, and now it’s time to take a side. I ask you:
Are you a Jerk?
Think long and hard before answering. When you think you’ve decided, continue reading. Here are a few questions to ponder: Do you own a cell phone? You may be a Jerk. Do you think Roger Moore was the best James Bond? Probably a Jerk. Did you vote for Nader? Yeah, you’re a Jerk. So’s he.
Decided? OK. Keep reading only if you’re a not-Jerk.
I say it loud and proud today. I call out to my brothers and sisters. Come together! Join together, not-Jerks! Let us unite and crush Jerkiness! Wipe it out! End Jerkiness in our lifetime!
If you’re not a Jerk, or more specifically a not-Jerk, make it known. Wear a pin of some sort. Do not consort with Jerks. Do not give them money. Do not help them. Cut them off. And don’t feel bad about it. They’re Jerks. They have it coming.
They’re trying to do the same thing to you. They’re always trying to put the not- Jerk out of business.
They’re the ones who are always trying to dick you out of your money. The Gap? Jerks, all of them. Those guys who are in charge of the Lotto drawings? Jerks. Televangelists? Jerks.
Don’t let them win, brothers and sisters. We have already waited too long to show our true not-Jerky faces, to take up arms. I fear it may be too late. I’m seeing many more Jerks than not-Jerks in the media, in the news: Donald Rumsfeld? Jerk. Ben Affleck? Jerk. Emeril? Jerk.
Perhaps the tide has already turned and we are doomed. Perhaps the rule of the Jerks is inevitable, what, with their deceptive, manipulative, Jerky ways. Perhaps this is the “Age of the Jerk.” Certainly seems that way so far.
I, for one, still have faith. And I will fight. And so I call out once more to my not-Jerk brethren and sistren. — And also, uh, you know, the whole animal kingdom. Because animals aren’t Jerks. Except for bears. They’re Jerks.
Greg Yolen is a sophomore in Pierson College. And a total Jerk.