The Great Brown Equalizer
By: Joshua Chamberlain
Posted: December 30, 2011
Due to the presence of our bulldog, I haven’t been blamed for a fart in over three years. I expect you will agree with me when I say that this makes me exceedingly lucky. I wonder, however, if you share my confusion about why this is the case. I can – and do – fart at will and blame it on the dog. Why should this make me lucky? After doing extensive, yet admittedly non-scientific, research for a large percentage of my life, I have come to the conclusion that everybody farts. What’s more, everyone goes to the bathroom as well. Why should this be a source of shame?
The need to defecate is the one unifying force among all the people of the world. Poop levels the playing field. It does not matter how much money someone makes, how much power one has, how much fame someone garners, how many children one produces, or what country one lives in; everyone will eventually have to sit on the toilet. It does not matter who you are; you will eventually have to use your own hand to wipe excrement off your rear end. How’s that for humility?
How many different situations could be made less tense by the simple acknowledgment that we all crap? Think of the irony: at the exact same moment, Occupy Wall Street protesters and “1%-ers” were sitting on the can. Does poop smell any worse when it lands in a cardboard box than it does when hitting a gold-plated toilet? Of course not! While the protests and reactionary responses were going on, however, we heard very little in the way of understanding. We heard a great deal about how the protesters were “dirty hippies” and the Wall Street-types were “evil manipulators,” but neither side took the time to so much as legitimize the other side’s existence.
We can even think bigger than one protest. At the exact same time, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama might be paying the price for the Buffalo wings they ate the night before. Would the arguments of presidential candidates be as vitriolic if, before speaking to the first topic of a debate, the candidates first acknowledged that they, too, poop? No chance!
Every situation can be made easier to digest (pun intended) if two opponents first discuss their bowel movements. The differences between democrats and republicans start to disappear when everyone agrees to stop hiding the smell of their feces. Sunnis and Shiites are able to find middle ground when it comes to excrement. Shooting another human being becomes much more difficult to do immediately following a discussion of one’s most recent trip to the bathroom. Poop is the great equalizer, as it calls to attention our humanity.
Atticus Finch, in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, suggested that, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” In his quote, Finch is inviting his daughter and, indeed, the reader to respect the humanity of other people. No argument, no fight, no battle, and no disagreement is nearly as important, pressing, or debilitating when one recognizes the humanity and legitimacy of the other side.
The more you get to know another person, the more unique that person becomes. You start to recognize and appreciate him as an individual and, more importantly, as an equal. What provides more equality than poop? There is no flag sticking out of a steaming pile identifying the producer. There is simply no such thing as a delightful pile of poop, and there is simply no human being who doesn’t produce one on a regular basis. If people can’t come together over this, then perhaps all hope is lost for society.
Since Atticus Finch’s directive is, of course, very difficult to accomplish – if it weren’t, many of the world’s ills would cease to exist – I recommend starting smaller. Rather than “climbing into his skin,” I suggest climbing atop his toilet. Take a sniff of what he is producing, have a laugh, and stop taking yourself so seriously. Always remember: as soon as you start feeling high and mighty, nature will call and bring you back to reality. Feel free to eat some fast food to speed up the process of realization.