For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I didn’t buy myself a trench coat, get a couple of shot guns and a few pistols, strap them to my extremities and proceed to blast away at schoolmates when I was in high school. I was not a popular kid, I got picked on, ridiculed, chastised, mocked, scorned and beat up pretty regularly. I had one particularly annoying quality that seemed to invite this treatment; I had ambition.
I didn’t have any qualities to suggest that I would be successful, not in sports and not academically. I did show some ability in the practical arts, however, being good in wood shop or in drafting weren’t the admirable sort of skills which would evoke respect from class mates.
That I could be so inept and yet so determined to succeed was viewed arrogant.
I actually became fairly literate, fairly knowledgeable, and fairly competent, not because I had the innate ability to do so, but because my ambition drove me to it. When I wanted to learn to write better, I bought a book about writing and practiced the exercises. When I wanted to build a geodesic dome I bought a book on spherical trigonometry and learned trig. I taught myself electronics, accounting, etc.
It never occurred to me that I might not succeed, and it certainly never occurred to me that I might blame someone else for any success I might not snatch. I grew a pretty thick skin in my formative years and have become single-minded in my pursuits; sometimes to the discord and apprehension of family members and employees.
I was once described by an employee as a freight train impervious to detour.
Undoubtedly, I am not the most sympathetic figure, and while I am capable of empathy I generally feel most of us are too willing to be coddled and too willing to be offended, sometimes looking for the chance. The only result of such self-pity can be to deny oneself opportunity.
The consistent astonishment demonstrated by our media and certain community leaders anytime some celebrity moron makes an off-handed remark is emblematic of the hyper-sensitive distress which permeates our culture. The latest broo-ha-ha, hovers over Don Imus, the anemic and antique radio curmudgeon who unceremoniously referred to women basketball players as, nappy-headed hos. Quite an ungracious remark for sure, however, far short the offensive language celebrated by a plethora of contemporary rap artists who seem unable to raise the ire of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.
For any segment of American society to feign offense each time malevolent remarks float their way only cements into the American consciousness the realization that certain groups are afforded an untouchable status worthy all the sanctimonious praise and adulation due only the downtrodden.
I submit, this phenomenon is no advantage even though it may be great for Jesse and Al who make their living crying over these not so salient comments riling supporters for financial gain.
One Rutgers basketball player offended by the Imus remark lamented, Mr. Imus has stolen a moment of pure grace from us.
O.K., Imus is a jackass, but how has his idiotic comment stolen something from a team of young women who have made the terrific achievement of arriving at the National Championship game?
If pure grace is stolen anytime commentators make moronic statements, one thing is for sure, pure grace shall cease to exist.
I wonder how I might have faired if I let the detractors of my youth define my future? If I had looked to be offended each time I endured a negative slur? I would never have been able to work the jobs which developed the skills allowing me to move ahead and ultimately build my own business.
When dreamworld is over and these girls are no longer experiencing pure grace bouncing a little orange ball up and down a wooden court, one or two of them might just have to get a job in a not so hospitable environment where unflattering epithets fly around like gnats on a hot day in Florida.
Probably not however, it’s unlikely any of those girls will get one of those jobs, not so glamorous on the outside, but teaming with possibility on the inside, when business owners are worried about getting sued because some redneck laborer in the company might just say something insensitive to a nice black lady who use to be a basketball player.
Overt chronic racism doesn’t exist in America because there simply are not that many racists. Racism is a quality that takes a great deal of effort, and gives little in return. Decisions that look like racism exist, however, because company owners want to minimize their risk of lawsuit when guys like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are poised, ready to scream injustice in order to promote their own racist agendas.
Who really loses?
Copyright 2007 Jim Pontillo