I was having a few rounds with a friend of mine who is kind of digusted with his life and especially, his surroundings. Nothing new about that in 2012. I have many a day when I wonder what the hell has become of my country, my city and especially my appearance.
But my friend was particularly sour this evening. He spoke about his financial situation, the soaring crime rate, what he labeled "reverse racism" and the Mets losing streak. Nothing new about the latter either.
I got home and began to think about what the problems were from his end, but mostly from my own. I can be a bit of a pollyanna at times; subtituting a hopeful air for a situation calling either for an extended middle finger or better, just joining the herd.
The next morning I was taking a bus downtown and at the stop, three young black kids wearing the uniforms of the Rye Beach recreational area were waiting for their bus. They seemed bright, happy, and Lord be praised, they were a few of the lucky kids who found work.
One kid was relating a story that happened during the week about a man experiencing some difficulty in making it back to shore while swimming. He related the incident and described him as "this old white man."
Nothing offensive meant judged by my smile toward them and the girls giggle and the young man's smile and wave. No offense taken either... good kids; you know, son and daughters material.
But it struck me..... that is my friends N word and in a sense mine. I call it OWG or Old White Guy in deference to the lingua franca of the day found in twitter, face book, elsewhere. Its offense is based more on who says it rather than its use. The N word is fine with African Americans but out of bounds with all others. The OWG word, parenthetically, will get you a room full of woe directed at me if it comes from some quarters which I can best describe as limousine liberals, yentas, or those patronizing white women or men who would dearly love to use the N word but fear a punch in the mouth or much worse, shunning from their collective group of phony social engineers and media hucksters. It is like the women of the View squared.
So, do sticks and stones hurt your bones; you bet your ass they do especially if you take it a bit further and look at how a difference cultural version affect our community and the unwillingness of the people in power to empower outside of their boxes.
My friend is upset because he sees injustice and hypocrisy stripping him of whatever power or position in life or the world he thought he possessed. He is right up to a point, but why make him feel worse by taking it beyond "a point." So, I was content with inviting him to list down all of the people who share his race, nationality, age, since the time of the ancient Greeks. He grinned as best an angry man could and said, "I would run out of paper in 30 minutes" and indeed, he would.
Yet why tell him not to be upset at this, but rather be upset at that and that is simply you are not in the equation at all in New Rochelle. You lack cache, status, demographic and political correctness. You are presently on the outside looking in. That might really cause him to take up arms against a sea of legitimate troubles.
You see, the City is doing a massive disservice to those who even tacitly enable or support it by denying a place at the table to competent people down my part of the City based on the factors mentioned above and said so often by me and others.
The Mayor is the one person in power who could change this in a moment; even if by explicit power of our own City Charteer, he is not empowered to grant or withold. But he does, his predecessor did and so on down the historical track.
So, I continue to make my oft-argued point that it is up to the elected City Council to recognize, accept and FIGHT for the right of their constitutents to ensure that our best and brightest citizens, especially those untainted by checkbook diplomacy, special interest, or neighborhood affinity, receive the right to serve the City. The Administration, at best, gives lip service.... now and then appointing its favored granola muncher or "safe" resident. No, each Council Member who is man or woman enough to claim the title of Council Member should say NO to any behind the door "discussion" and NO to any vetoing of any selection made of a member of a district.
Poor Abraham Lincoln.... what an embodiment of the OWG he was. We are seeing more and more "disclosures" made about allegations concerning his sexual preferences and much worse, some moron is criticizing him for not stepping in sooner than he did to come out against slavery. What a jerk..... there was something called "preserve the union" that had a meaning, something else being in office to do what he did that had even more of a meaning. It would be, on a much smaller scale criticizing Obama for sticking his moistered finger in the air to test the politic climate before "evolving" his views on same sex marriage. OMG another OWG named Joe Biden forced the issue and it may win the boss re-election.
But my major point today on Lincoln is in the context of community and total enfranchisement. The great historian Doris Kearns, who is anything but an OWG, educates us in terms of the brilliant strategy employed by Lincoln in convening his "confederation of rivals" in forming his cabinet. By doing so, he collected the best and brightest minds available with a healthy dose of political savvy thrown in for good measure.
So, let me end by humbly requesting the current administration to get off its elitist hind quarters and form your own confederation of non-rivals; people who would go to the mattress for New Rochelle and by doing so, cement its future and your own.
I am an OWG and I am very proud to be in the company of Socrates, Lincoln and Einstein and honored to be in the same species as Mandela, Mumbet, and Confucious.
The late comedian Sam Kineson, when questioned about the famine infecting Ethiopia and Somalia several decades ago, gave the rather curious advice to the starving populations ..... "go where the food is." It was intemperate, but changing the topic area is not..... City Council and Administration, if you want to experience a major breakthrough in energy, collaboration, and commitment.... "go where the support and love for the City is..... and that is down these parts. I warn you though, there might be a hell of a lot of OWGs living down these parts.