Last night my daughter Meg got home from work and told me a story. As I listened I thought about people and the human condition and it made me want to tell her story. It’s about equal opportunity inconsiderateness and how, sometimes, people can just suck.
But, even in the telling of a ‘people suck story’ there is a happy ending. There is hope.
Meg, who is 17, works as a lifeguard. This is her second year as a guard. At her pool, although the guards are all about the same age, they are broken into a social hierarchy: 1st year, 2nd year, etc. I say social hierarchy because there are no job responsibility distinctions between the years. The position in the hierarchy is merely determined by one’s length of service.
Well yesterday, her school mate, friend and a first year was up in the stand guarding and needed to go to the bathroom. Because she can’t leave the stand unattended, she was trying to get the attention of another guard, a 2nd year, who was just feet away from her, engaged in a casual conversation. He ignored her.
A few minutes later, when it was time to change guards, after she got out of the stand and went to the bathroom, she approached the guard whose attention she had tried to get and asked him why he had not come over when she asked him to.
I don’t give two fucks about what a 1st year guard wants.
And I thought about autism and the acceptance we want for our kids. When I heard this story I wondered how the hell are we going to get some people to behave with compassion towards those with autism when they can’t show respect in basic human interactions.
And I also thought about how some people have a need for power, a need to separate themselves, in this case by something as arbitrary as the number of years spent as a lifeguard. It seems innate in this 17-year-old to separate, to create a system to put himself above others, and then to flex his muscles based on this position, this perceived power.
And I thought about how corrupt he is, already.
How does that happen?
Power can be an intoxicating nectar for some. It can make heads loopy, and it can be used as justification for a blatant disregard towards others.
Is the need for power a natural part of the human condition?
Then, add money to power and dear god, what a mess we get.
What gives me hope from this story was that Meg, her friend, and several other of the guards who witnessed the scene can see his suck and want as little to do with him as possible.
I guess what I am saying is, suck will always be there and we have to recognize that. The idea, the goal, is to have more good than suck. If each of us, in our lives can model good and call suck out when we see it, then maybe we can diminish the frequency and power of suck.
When a politician doesn’t act in your interest, oppose them.
When a doctor or therapist acts condescending, fire them.
When the school system denies your child their right to a free appropriate public education, make them.
And when someone shows kindness, thank them and then surround yourself with people like them.
For we are ALL equal and should treat each other with the respect that comes from being equal.
Let’s outnumber and depower suck.