He saw a fight that didn’t involve him and booked it up the block because the dudes fighting at the intersection were none of his concern. Whatever they were beefing about wasn’t any of his business. He and his buddy just wanted to catch a little McDonald’s on a Friday after school. That could certainly wait until these knuckleheads were finished.
So he and his buddy ran.
Kevin Miller ran as fast as his 13-year old body would carry him down the block, away from trouble. The money his mother gave him would have to wait. The few extra dollars he got for doing his chores and getting good grades would have to spend a few more minutes burning a hole in his pocket.
Sure, it was Friday. But Friday’s fun would have to wait until the knuckleheads were finished scrappin.’ So he did the right thing. He ran.
But one of the knuckleheads, fighting at an intersection over something almost certainly worthless, didn’t care about the money burning a hole in Kevin’s pocket; didn’t care about the few extra bucks his mother gave him that morning for being the kind of kid that does the right thing. See, that knucklehead decided he had to prove his point at that intersection; that he had to be right.
But he missed. He missed the worthless point he felt so eager to make. He missed the point that his right was wrong.
He missed. And Kevin fell. His mother’s money still in his pocket.
We have to do better. We have to believe…
I desire the better nature of people. I just don’t trust it.
This isn’t an apologia for politicians.
It shouldn’t even be considered a sympathetic explanation for the befuddling way in which they conduct themselves in their profession. Consider this a…pointing out of sorts.
Politics, in all its complexity and nuance, is what politicians do for a living. I don’t mean “living” in that heady, cerebral “This is what I do for a living, baby!” way; I mean when Barack Obama, Max Baucus, Orrin Hatch and friends fill out their tax return, they write “Politicker.”
As politickers, their job is to serve the public, but their interest is to stay politickers as long as they are able. Sure; they maybe want to help people in the best way they see fit, but they definitely want to keep riding in town cars and making bank.
As my Twitter pal and dozens foe Melissa Harris-Lacewell pointed out, political parties are for office seekers. And most office seekers, even if they have a great idea that they truly believe in–like the public option–they’ll buckle with enough pressure. Show me someone who’s ascended to a high office and I’ll show you someone who knows the nature of compromise.
To me, the public option makes sense on every possible level. I have a good idea of what life without taxes would be–atrocious for pretty much everyone–and don’t really care about being taxed so I and others can be well. I literally shrug. If Americans stick together like we supposedly do then everyone has to pitch in. Am I enthused about giving up a few more bucks? Not really, but I spend money on all kinds of things much less worthwhile.
But my support doesn’t cost anything. It doesn’t affect my job; I have no reason to be circumspect in that regard.
Politickers can’t say that. Certain support risks a job they enjoy–being full-time politicians and some-time public servants.
Do I wish they would fight like hell? Of course. But I ain’t got nothin’ on it. And as my boy Elon might say, “Real politicians don’t do real things.”
Sounds bleak right? If so, an examination around the room is an order.
Politicians aren’t a different species of human being. They come from among us. And they are not our best.
A great deal of our best and brightest scatter to places unknown–either because they know better or just don’t care–and leave the job of police officer, school teacher and politician, to anyone but themselves.
Jobs which are as necessary as they are thankless are left to the willing. Not the willing and able; the willing. And this willingness runs the gamut from earnest belief in a cause to poorly-veiled self interest. The reward? Power to defray the fundamental thanklessness (except in the case of teachers, who get less professional respect than dockside hookers).
Some ask, “Where are our politicians?” I ask, “Where are our best?”
I know why they snapped.
They’re passionate people who had particular opinions on some matter or other–health care, foot faults, the ‘Single Ladies’ video–and were compelled to express that passionate opinion in a particular way.
I get that. Joe and Serena and Kanye felt a certain way.
I’m more puzzled by the numbers of people apologizing, to varying degrees, for them. I understand loyalty and nuance and historical context and the like, but as I see this supportive closing of ranks, I’m starting to believe it’s more fundamental than loyalty, nuance, and context.
I’m beginning to think these people feel themselves the good people of Nottingham forest who are being avenged by brazen, if tactless, acts of defiance.
Shorter Pitts-Wiley: People like seeing authority figures get shitted on for a change.
Was Joe Wilson right? Maybe; he’s at least entitled to his beliefs.
Did Serena foot fault? Nope.
Was Kanye right regarding the video? Yup.
But each incident quickly became about more than being right; it became about humiliation.*
Being right and humiliating another person in the process is a nut most people can’t help but bust. Why?
Because, on a lot of levels, people are just animals with opposable thumbs and reflexive thought; animals that go through life getting teabagged with little to no recourse and any opportunity to put the shoe in another butt is one worth championing. We couple being right and humiliation in the same category: Inflicting injury.
The irony is, we want our right to hurt so good that we bust that nut too early; we get caught up in the theatrics of making our point and leave it to the teabagged to parse out the reasonable point we intended to make.
They do the work of explaining while others just sign the autographs.
*Author’s Note: I think Serena is harder to classify in this collection of fuckery because she snapped in the heat of battle. I don’t think she was right, but her outburst can be reasonably explained, unlike Joe Wilson’s– who thought this was a debate at the Yale Political Union–and unlike Kanye’s–who decided to embarrass a little white girl whom he knew he could punk off.