Opinion » Bill Cope

SFMPB Newsletter

Volume 1, Issue 2


The Society For Making People Better—committed to enriching, empowering and ennobling the human condition, even if it means we have to acknowledge that about three-quarters of all human beings are hopeless dopes.

—Grand Marshal Cope

Ave, compadre SFMPBers. We here at SFMPB Temporary Headquarters hope your spring is proceeding auspiciously. What a glorious season this is, is it not ... what with all that rebirth junk going on?

It's been over two months since the last SFMPB Newsletter, and to tell the truth, I don't know whether that's good or bad. If I belonged to any other associations, organizations, congregations, leagues or lodges, I would surely have more experience with the proper procedures of putting out newsletters. But the Society For Making People Better is the only club I belong to, you see. And since the "we" I referred to earlier is pretty much "me," since I am the only full-time staffer (or part-time, for that matter), I am forced to rely on my own instincts in matters such as this. If you were camped out next to a BW distribution box last month, waiting for the March newsletter, I'm so sorry. I also apologize if you think this is too soon—that newsletters should come only four times a year. Or twice. Or even once. Be patient. Keep in mind, this is a relatively new adventure we have entered into here, and we're learning as we go. (And again, by "we," I mean "me.")

UNVEILING THE SFMPB CREED: We have decided that any club as wonderful as ours needs a creed to declare, in a concise and elevated manner why, we are so wonderful. Thus, we present you with the dedication at the top of the newsletter. When, and if, we are ever in a position to erect the International House of SFMPB (as I envision happening one day, hopefully somewhere next to a pretty lake), that statement will be inscribed into the Italian marble facing above the main entrance.

Or maybe not in those exact words. Our staff writer has been experimenting with different phrasing, fully aware that, as is, the creed comes across sounding a tad harsh concerning our "hopeless dope" friends and neighbors. But for the time being, what we have unveiled here today is as nice as I can get. No kidding, you should have seen it before I sweetened it up some.

SFMPB RULE BOOK UPDATE: We are pleased to announce a new rule. Frankly, I was hoping to have invented several for today's newsletter—four or five new rules per issue sounds about right—but I've been busy. I do have a life outside the SFMPB, you know.

And besides, this newest rule (which will be numbered Rule 8 in your Official Rule Book) did not come into its final wording easily. The first draft was a snap because, basically, I adopted a wise old adage most of us have heard all our lives: "Do not judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes." You've heard it, surely. It's almost as common as, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch," or "M&Ms melt in your mouth ... not in your hands."

But then, I looked at it the next morning and thought, "A mile? One measly stinking mile? Why, a mile is nothing. It's like ... what? ... twice around the mall's second level? And anyway, what is it about a 15-minute walk in a fellow human being's shoes that would give us the wisdom to judge him?"

Of course, I'm not so literally minded that I don't understand the saying is a metaphor for getting inside another person's head—for getting a sense for what compels him to behave as he does and what experiences have made him the person he is. With that said, though, the old saw still doesn't make any sense. I figure it would take at least eight miles of walking in this other guy's shoes before we could get even a hint of what's going on in his head. In fact, I suspect we couldn't get into some people's heads if we walked 1,000 miles in their shoes. Dick Cheney, for instance ... what ungodly torture would you put your feet through to get into Dick Cheney's head? And why on Earth would any sane person want to be there in the first place?

And there are so many more. Like Donald Trump. Who the hell cares what makes Donald Trump tick? And Naomi Campbell. And Kim Jong Il. And Adam Sandler. And Karl Rove. And ... ah, I could go on forever, coming up with people whose heads I wouldn't want to get into, even on a bet.

So I told myself, "Grand Marshal Bill, think about it. Is this why you started the SFMPB ... to be sympathetic to people you consider to be irredeemable dickheads? Or was it to rise above and beyond them?"

Eventually, I ended up with a revised Rule 8 that is flexible enough that SFMPBers may feel free to go ahead and judge others without the hassle of having to understand them first. We can well imagine there are people who read this and think, "But, Grand Marshal Cope, doesn't this attitude make you a snobby elitist? A cruel, cold representative of exactly the sort of human being you claim the SFMPB is out to transcend?"

And to them, we would ask, "How does one rise above and beyond the irredeemable dickheads of the world without, at some point in the transcending process, making it clear who the irredeemable dickheads are and why it's a such good idea to rise above and beyond them?" I mean, when trying to steer a friend away from a pile of shit, surely the easiest, most direct method is to say, "Don't step in that pile of shit, buddy," is it not? Yet to accomplish this, you have to call a pile of shit what it is. Yes?

So here is the final version of Rule 8: "Some people just aren't worth the effort of walking a mile in their shoes—or even across the room in their shoes—even if that's all it takes to appreciate everything there is to know about them."

If you would, please snip Rule 8 from this newsletter and add it to the SFMPB Rule Book provided in the last newsletter, which I hope you kept. I recommend you use masking tape or even a paper clip—and not actual glue—to "paste" it into your personal copy. At some future date, we may have to re-evaluate the order of the rules as to their ranking in value, and it's entirely possible that "Rule 8" could end up "Rule 1." Or "Rule 72," for that matter. Anything is possible in this brave new world of the SFMPB.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH: "Lady, I may be drunk, but you're ugly. And tomorrow morning, I'll be sober, and you'll still be ugly." —quote from either Winston Churchill, W.C. Fields, or someone else. We know someone cool said it, we just haven't pinned down who.