Note: I should mention that this post owes a heavy debt to a conversation I had over the weekend with Angie who is one of the most upright citizens I know.
Last week I accidentally tipped the pizza delivery guy $14. It's not worth going into the mechanics of how you accidentally hand $14 to someone. If you've seen American money, you'll know how easy it is to mix up those bills. But, the thing that's been bugging me is the split second that I considered asking him to give it back.
It wasn't a particularly long drive from the pizza place to my house. It wasn't a complicated order. But, driving is always dangerous and rolling up to a stranger's house and knocking on the door is no small thing.
Do I really think that I deserve that $14 more than the pizza guy does?
I could go off on a tangent about capitalism and the free market and how it isn't really free at all but, I'll spare you my opinions about the 'science' of economics. We're all so tangled up in the quantification of each other and the debt that we clamor to gain from the mortgage lenders. It's just not even worth going down that road.
The point is that I stood there in my doorway, looking at someone's precious son and considered telling him that he isn't worth $14.
Every post that I've written on this blog has been about the same thing.
More specifically, I know nothing. About anything. Including myself.
And, maybe, that's everything anyone needs to know.
I think I've mentioned before that I work for a government agency. Without disclosing too many details, I'll tell you that the agency that I work for is much maligned by the press, elected officials, TV newscasters, and pretty much anyone who's up on current events. We do too much. We don't do enough. We compress dollar bills into emery boards that we use to sharpen our horns and hooves before riding out to tromp all over the American dream.
If I delivered pizzas on behalf of my employer, I think 25% of Americans would grudgingly tip me $1, 25% would have no idea what I was talking about, 25% would tell me to get fucked and slam the door in my face, and 25% would open fire.
Of course, I already said that I know nothing. Maybe none of that would happen. Maybe the ones who slam the door are right. Maybe my colleagues and I are doing more harm than good.
Like I said. I know nothing.
I think I've also mentioned that I live in Pennsylvania, the home of Rick Santorum (aka Rick Santorum), Vince Fumo, and now, the illustrious crew up at Penn State who unleashed this guy on the world.
Let me pause for a moment while I hang my head and emit many forlorn sighs.
I just don't have the words.
Every day we hold those around us in our hearts and judge their worth. The pizza guy. Those good for nothing government employees. The neighbor with his neat-as-a-pin yard.
Maybe you've managed to rise above the urge to judge. If so, kudos. I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter.
Here in Pennsylvania we're deep into the business of judging at the moment. A group of grown men got together and determined that ensuring the welfare of a little boy wasn't worth damaging the 'reputation' of a heralded institution. This apparently happened upwards of 20 times. The fact that a large group of adults managed to put 20 little boys on a scale and determine that they were collectively worth less than one man, just because he happened to be one of their own, is deeply troubling.
Even worse than the fact that it happened is that it's not terribly surprising.
Yet, the newspaper comments sections are full of outrage and declarations. If-I-knew-that-kids-were-being-molested-in-my-workplace/neighborhood/parish/state/country/planet-I'd-do-something.
Having been a child and having worked with children in my former life, I believe that you could walk into any elementary school cafeteria right now, ask the kids which grown-ups are sexual predators, and get a pretty good response rate.
Cast back into your memories of childhood a little bit. I can think of three adults that the other kids would talk about right off the top of my head. All three of them were in prison by the time I reached adulthood.
I could probably go to any major city in the world right now and ask a cab driver to take me to a child prostitute.
Anyone could get this information and take action to protect these kids.
I don't know. Maybe the comments sections of newspaper websites is where all of the upright citizens and child advocates hang out. But, if we're all so shocked and outraged, why aren't we doing more? What are we doing with our time and resources that is so much more important than protecting children from those who want to hurt them?
What am I doing?
How can I do better?