Jim's Eternal Dilemma
"I'm sorry. Are you alright? I didn't mean to hit you and I shouldn't have been riding on the sidewalk.
"Oh no, your phone is broken! Dude that was my fault! Can I help pay for a new one for you?
"You look shaken up, your lip is bleeding.
"No, I'm alright, dude I hit you.
"I'm totally sorry and it was totally my fault".
Actually, that's not how it happened. I had walked C. to her car after First Friday and was checking messages on the corner of Congress and Dow, by the 7/11 when I suddenly felt a crash and an arm reach in front of me, forcing my brand new, week-old iPhone out of my hand.
I think it was a grab for the device.
Then a rapidly retreating voice saying, "Asshole, you were standing there."
I picked up the phone, saw its shattered front, turned and shouted at his retreating back .... "Dude I'm not the one riding on the sidewalk!!"
The flashing red tail-light - at least that was street legal - disappeared down the sidewalk, across Congress and down Mellon Street.
So let's recap what we've learned:
- if you can take something from someone by force or trickery, then do it. Opportunity imputes justification.
- causing loss or pain to another person is fine because you will not feel it.
- there are no such things as victims. Victims are people who don't deserve what happens to them. Anyone not actively trying to gain or use an advantage of any kind is a fool and is therefore unimportant.
- Never, ever admit that you have done wrong, caused pain to another, or broken the social contract we all share. If you do not admit it, it did not happen.
- always, always, always blame the person you hurt. Put them in the hole first so you can kick them as they climb out to confront you.
All my life - all of it, from the very first moments I remember encountering other people - I have never, ever understood the games of power and personality that other people participate in. I've never understood lying, bullying, cheating, stealing, belittling, vandalizing - all of it - even when I was doing it myself.
And the vulnerability I feel is truly frightening. I'll have to buy a new phone - one week after buying one - my lip is split inside, the bleeding has stopped - and my left side is very sore and I'm a little dizzy and flushed.
But I think at the core of my being is joy and curiosity, shadow and light. The hatred and anger I feel right now is very, very hot and bright on the surface - but has no real deep source to fuel it and it will therefore burn out eventually. So I will go on and see what I have to work with tomorrow.
Keep close the peace I have always wished for you, even when my own is far, far away.