Sunday, September 5, 2021

Shirts Near the Fair

I've already mentioned that I'm not going to the Minnesota State Fair this year, but last evening around 7:00 p.m. I spent a half hour or so sitting at an intersection along the way to one of the pedestrian and bike entrances, people-watching.

It was a pretty good representation of a typical State Fair crowd, meandering along the sidewalks and crossing the streets with strollers. Most people were leaving, often with buckets of Sweet Martha's Cookies in hand, while some were entering for the night. 

As I do when I'm at the Fair, I tried to keep an eye out for interesting shirts. 

I saw one that appeared to have a covid virus on it, and as the guy wearing it got closer I realized the virus shape had a hammer and sickle superimposed on it. I'm not sure what it was supposed to mean. "China virus"? Communist plot? Communism will defeat the virus?

Then there was this guy:

I realized after I viewed the photo that there's a Marine Corps logo above that terrible slogan. And now I know that this this is a long-time Marine Corps saying, more recently adopted by exercise instructors. On a superficial level, it makes sense as an exercise or fitness mantra: try harder, push a bit more. Okay. 

But on a deeper level it's awful. Pain is not weakness, it's a defense mechanism telling you to stop before you damage yourself. It's not weakness to stop damaging yourself. I think of a kid keeping their hand on a hot stove with this mentality, or of gymnast Kerri Strug's coach coercing her into vaulting with a broken ankle. 

Pain is also something that many people have on a chronic basis, and it's not symbolic of weakness leaving their bodies. The glib generality of this phrase assumes everyone is in a pain-free state to start with.

When I took the photo, I had no idea it was a Marines shirt. I thought it was from CrossFit or something like that. But it's not an attitude I want near me or anyone I care about. That it's been part of a government institution for decades (if not longer) is appalling.

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