Saturday, May 25, 2013

Against The Wall

A group of teens, swarming towards the subway door, came face to face with a large woman, trying to get by them carrying two shopping bags. One fairly tall teen girl slammed in to the large woman, clearly purposefully, clearly aiming, successfully, at getting laughs from her friends. They moved quickly on through the door, the large woman did not. She stood there for a second, then walked a few feet over to the wall, leaned against it, and cried.

Those girls will never know, and maybe wouldn't care if they did, the human devastation they left in their wake. A woman, crumpled and crying, using the wall for support as if her back had been broken by the weight of their disrespect. I don't know what to do in these circumstances but I headed over to say something, someone had to say something. We all saw it. We all knew what happened.


Of course.

Silence is consent.

Silence is complicity.

Silence is collusion.

But before I got there another woman had arrived. She's someone I see around from time to time. She has an intellectual disability and works in one of the stores in the mall. She stood with the woman, talked to her quietly. Soon, they were laughing.

I rolled away, not needing to do anything,

I don't know what was said, I do know that when laughter starts - healing is underway.

What struck me as wonderfully ironic was that the woman who arrived to help wore a tee-shirt with the logo of a community living organisation. Sometimes slogans stay slogans, sometimes they become action - "community living" isn't a concept it's an action.


Anonymous said...

The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.

Dante Aligheri

That qoute I just read came to my mind while reading your post.

I am glad that people stop maintaing their neutrality...


Belinda said...

What a great quote Julia, very sobering and challenging.

The post made me so sad for everyone involved--and angry at the girls, who I would like to give a shake to wake them up. I'm glad Dave pulled my heart up a few degrees from where it had sunk to, at the end.

CapriUni said...

Dave --

As a recovering English major, I must protest that there was nothing ironic about the young woman's shirt. "Irony" is when you say one thing, but mean something else.

Seems to me that her shirt and its message wasn't an example of irony so much as Integrity -- her publicly professed philosophy was truly integrated with her actions.

This story is also a wonderful example of what we can do to answer violence with peace.

And, as with Julia, this story also reminded me of a quote -- this one from George Fox (founder of the Society of Friends [Quakers]):

"Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you go, so that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one."

Deb said...

There are many people who look back at how they behaved as teens and feel shame. Let's hope this girl is one of them.

Bravo for the fearlessness and sweetness of the young woman who consoled the victim of the teen's thoughtfulness. She's probably been the recipient of such bullying tactics herself, and knows that these are attacks on the spirit, even more than the body.

Let's hope the older woman's memories of the day were more about a stranger's kindness and shared laughter in the end than in that moment of ugliness foisted on her.