Vigilant

These kinds of things always happen to me.  These kinds of things, I always make happen. There I was minding my own business, sitting at a table facing the barista’s counter. When arose one of those situations when you ask yourself, what would I do in-the-event-of, and why?

A thief decides to do his thing and swipe the tall tip jar from the counter, and dart out the door.  I tend to be a believer in justice, and especially when it so happens I have some sort of relationship with the victim or the doer of wrong.  I took chase.

It was late afternoon, sun coming down, a Friday, snow storm finally beginning after hours of cumbersome rain.  With less than an inch covering the sidewalks the pursuit was a slippery challenge. Out the door, hard right, he slipped a little, I slid a little. Darting across the first cross street, which if you can imagine, has a wide mouth pitcher opening.  Originally it excepted trolley cars turning in and out.  By the time I made it across to the spout side of the street, I was gaining ground.  Thanks to my northeast roots in upstate New York, where snowfalls are as common as hip food-trucks, I’m taking short running steps, toes pointed out, heals digging in.  In New York City we, the wisest among us, wonder what they’d do if their property were snatched.  Try to remain one step ahead, after all thieves are smarter, that’s why they’re thieves.  I was doing exactly what I contemplated I would do.  Within safe reason, I would at least give an attempt at the pursuit.  I think this is so, so at the end of the day I wont feel like a complete helpless individual.  You gave it your best shot.

It wasn’t even my belonging that had been stolen, but my relationship to the victim(s)-in-progress are very layered.  There was an immediate sense of responsibility.  Big brother, mother—I possess a deep need to ministrant for the well-being and care of others.  Words followed up with actions, I have proved this many times over, ask anyone.  This is just another example of, how I be.  I hope it never gets me into dangerous situations unnecessarily, failing to follow my first rule—to be on the front line of my self-care.  This situation was unique.

A conundrum, how some days it takes twenty minutes to pick out an outfit, yet in the moment of vigilantism, the mind races through the specifics and quickly assesses—give chase.

The next moment I realized that I was actually going to catch this guy. “Oh shit, now what?” Exact words. “I’m going to have to tackle him!” Next set of exact words.  More quick assessments: psychologize the bad guy and remind him that he’s done for, making your capture a little easier.   “I got you man, I got you!”  I shouted as I flew at him, arm extended out for a move if caught on tape, would have me dubbed “Tubbs” Turner, for its Miami Vice-esque awesomeness.  As my close-lining arm was about to make contact “Alright, alright” he shouts, “I’m droppin’ it!”  Too late though, and as our bodies descend to the ground, his beneath mine, the glass jar goes flying up. Gave it up so quickly?  No, I caught him because between running in the snow without falling, he was also digging out the cash during the chase.  Like I said, thieves are smarter.  The glass jar comes crashing down as our bodies make-contact with the hard concrete.  A fall made easier, by the perfect amount of snow.  We slid through the snow and broken glass. He popped up and kept running, a few young pedestrians getting out of his way, darting across a slushy trafficked main street. A few spared dollars, tussling around in the snow.  My chase was done, anything further would cross that line of brave and stupid.  He got away with most of the cash, but he definitely got served.  Maybe he’ll think twice about his brazen acts, and also, never step foot into that Williamsburg coffee shop again.  Or maybe, I’ve helped him to become an even smarter thief.  We learn what we want from our experiences.

I think I chased that guy down for more than just his wrong doing.  I chased him down, to get even.  My first goal was to retrieve the object that did not belong to him, while simultaneously thwarting an unchallenged criminal victory.  What he received from me was much more than punishment for his own acts.  We’re living in a time of exposé, every other stream revealing corruption.  He was acting-up with all of his peers who lack integrity, and I raised my voice, “Enough!” Not for power, but for all of the injustices done to people who don’t deserve it.  Sick and tired.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got this uneasy feeling that a growing number of elites (aka 1%) continue to get away with inexcusable acts of injustice.  Financial elites, political elites, and even cultural elites get away with creating subpar contributions in culture.  Yet I also forgave this person, I could have re-tackled and then wrestled him down—he was smaller than me.  Though, keeping a healthy perspective, why put myself in further danger for what is essentially a petty act of crime? Petty acts get dealt with quick and swift, because their pettiness doesn’t warrant the time and effort.  But mad as hell, ain’t gonna take it anymore, why are these fools still getting away with our present and future?  Why are we being told to stress potential financial meltdowns, when the crooks are still coming in and swiping out our stability?  And I’ll tell you what, it is not my intention to make-meaning by chasing down bad guys and crooks.  But in so many ways, hasn’t that always been a part of culture—rooting out the undesirable elements?  When do we as individuals step in as individuals acting for the whole, rather than waiting for the whole to act for the individual, and to what degree?  What role do we play in all of this?  Especially as we suffer the consequences, and no recourse?  Oh no, I don’t think so.  It’s not that I want revenge.  That’s a dark place to be in.  I want real justice.  I want to uphold integrity, and some kind of morality.

What gets me most about chasing that guy down, is that by default of a long history of geniculate motives most recently revealed by the “financial meltdown” crafted by key players, and then proliferated by consensual malfeasance in multiple monetary markets—he and I are on the same side of a line that divides between the have, and the have-nots.  He and I are scrapping over a dwindling piece of American Dream Pie.  Its just not right, we all know it ain’t right, yet because money and power go hand and hand, here this young guy goes risking it all for some petty cash, and I the “hero” for tackling him down on a snow covered sidewalk.  When all I really want to be doing is cultivating in myself and others, a more unified sense of consciousness in culture.

Indeed, American exceptionalism has re-architextualized its nest, conveniently ignoring what  else-wise is considered to be common knowledge: leadership with integrity builds strength in numbers. Yet you, the people, are a welfare state.  When the political and financial sector patency audaciously carries on, and to boot, creating mythical beasts for us to fear. There are no exceptions to Truth. It is Whole, any partiality is an add-on; debatable.

Deception is always revealed in the myth of exceptionalism.

Billion dollar bailouts, and the bonuses keep coming.  And we the people are expected to suffer through the consequences of outright corruption: increased taxes, downsized programs, scarcity of work.  Called socialists because we need help.  Meanwhile, when asked to surrender a portion of their 95% of the dream-pie, they claim “We made this.” How about this, all of those who disagree with that elitist belief go on a nationwide strike, and then we’ll really see who is actually doing the making.  Without us the corporateers  have nothing to wager their bets on.  I’m sorry but the guys and gals making cars in Detroit aren’t the ones who screwed this up.  Yet it is folks all over the country, just like them, who are suffering the consequences, or at least feeling the squeeze.  Downsizing dreams of their own, and their children’s, and for many more than we would like to admit: their children’s, children’s ability to dream.  My friends, it is the same classic story told of greed and corruption.  And when we can claim innocence, while benefitting from the greed of others, oh it makes it so much easier to turn our eyes away—count our blessings, and say a prayer for the less fortunate. Left to squabble over a dwindling piece of the action—getting to claim the hero status for our vigilantism.

Exceptionalism has only one direction, and that is exclusion.  More of us are not becoming the exception. Although many race/ethnicity-based paths of corruption still exist within our political and economic systems, the path of exceptionalism continues to contract, excluding more of us from its sphere of concern.  Today my complaints and concerns are the complaints and concerns of Americans.  And if this is what it looks like to be or not to be the exception, then no thank you!  I don’t want it, ain’t nothing regeneratively good to come of it. Deception is always revealed in the myth of exceptionalism.  The excluded are typically the first to have this revelation.

The time that it takes Truth to work its way through massive criminality, has everything to do with us, but happens tangentially to our perception of time. Justice, if at all, takes even longer.  Sick and tired of waiting, but not by way of throwing up hands in frustration, rather, calling out “all hands on deck!”  Making this objectively, a matter of perseverance.  Perseverance is an action, not a one-time event.

I am left to ponder the usuriousness, that a petty criminal is labeled as coming from a lower class or status, yet a grand-theft mastermind (of the mortgage-crisis ilk) does not lose their upper-strata class status.  As if senseless criminality (opposed to breaking law to preserve human rights) is better dependent upon the circumstance, and perpetrator.  Then I remember that I never forget, class and strata are made up ways of being, machinated as a way to divide, and thwart any challenges to power.

To that young guy I chased down and tackled, I want to say that I am sorry life had pitted us as foes.  We are not foes though.  We are fighting for the same cause, over the same unfairness. Existence, however, has us woven—indistinguishable from its perspective. And that is how I believe you to be my brother, flesh of my flesh.  We must remain vigilant that justice and morality prevail, not to follow down that rabbit hole.  We are the only ones holding us accountable.

2 Comments

  1. Your instinct to right a wrong is exactly right. Your fair and humanitarian post analysis of the thief is beyond commendable. I wish all of us operated on that level. Thanks for sharing.

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