I recently moved from Colorado to Florida to outrun a DUI that took place in April 2015 back in Colorado. At the same time I am waiting to see if I get into an Ivy League school.
My parents moved from New Hampshire to Southwest Florida in 2011, and although I have only a handful of friends in Florida, I came to the conclusion that it would be the best place to establish residency, have my license reinstated, and spend my summer as I waited for a spot to free up for school.
As much as I would like to, I could not spend the summer drinking and surfing. One needs money for that, and a DUI left me short on funds to bum it out at my parents for the summer.
I have been working a bar job restocking beer and taking shit from managers, at a restaurant-bar combo only five miles from my house. At first glance I was happy with my employment, but one month in and I knew it would be a temporary gig. I was about to get off of work one afternoon when a woman approached me claiming that a child, not affiliated with her, had cut her foot open on the private beach that we had at the restaurant. I glanced over and saw a small group of adults huddled around a little girl. As I made my way over I determined that the situation was not an emergency, but a little girl was crying and I gave her a quick inspection. A safe assumption was that the girl more than likely cut her foot on the oyster beds that were just off shore. There wasn’t a lot of blood, but there was a good size laceration on her left foot. The family politely, key word here, asked for a bandage, which doesn’t do much, but makes the child feel better and closes the wound. Such a small request, and, having a conscience, I sought out a first aid kit. Being relatively new I had no idea where medical supplies would be kept. The first person of authority that I came across happened to be the general manager. “Do we have a first aid kit somewhere in the office?” I asked. He looked at me, puzzled, “yea, why?” he asked. “Nothing crazy, but a little girl cut her foot open on the beach. I’m just trying to track down a bandage and something to clean the wound with.” “Yea, there’s one in the office.” As I rummaged through the first aid kit looking for the necessary supplies another manager came into the office. “What are you doing?” she asked. “A little girl cut her foot open. I’m just looking for something to clean the cut and bring them a bandage,” I responded. “That is for employees,” she said. “If parents want to let their kids run around and get hurt that is not our problem. They can take them to a hospital.” I was in shock. Not because the total supplies would have totaled less than $10, not because she had children, girls of her own. Because we were rationalizing the treatment, as minor as it was, to a little girl. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why the world is falling apart. It’s not terrorist attacks from groups like ISIS, it’s not England leaving the EU, or the killing of cops over shit like Black Lives Matter. It’s you.
Now this doesn’t apply to everyone, this is called a sweeping generalization. It doesn’t apply to every single person who reads this. It may, but less than likely. The idea here is that everyday people, the “you”, are the problem.
At the time that I am writing this eight police officers were killed in just over a week in alleged support of the Black Lives Matter movement that is taking place all over the United States. On the other side of the globe 84 people were run down in Nice, France by a terrorist associated with Isil (ISIS) in a truck, and wounding more than 100 others. Although these attacks are tragic, as any unnecessary loss of life is, they are not enough to bring the world to its knees. Those that carry out attacks like these make up a fraction of a fraction of one percent of the world’s population. I don’t have the statistics on these figures, but I’m going to go ahead and use common sense and first grade math on this one. With a global population of 7.4 billion it would take 7.4 million terrorists or “bad guys” to make up one percent of the population. I don’t have the research, or means to do so, but I do know that no military on the planet has a standing army of 7.4 million.
So, what does this mean? It means that if we were to radically round up for simple numbers purposes, for every 100 people there are on the planet, we may, in a absolute worst case scenario, have one bad egg. One psycho, one murderer, one person who should honestly be dragged out back “Old Yeller” style and just capped in the back of the head. What this also means is that for this one big, bad, evil lunatic, there are 99 people who could stop him.
Anyone who has ever been in a firefight, a street fight, or to dumb it down further, any child who can hold a general conversation, can tell you that there is virtually NO REASON why at one evil person should triumph over the other 99 “good” people. The answer in short is that the 99, in 2016, are not what we think. It is not 99 against the one. In reality it is one against one, and 98 spectators.
Heraclitus once said, “Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” In the Marine Corps we were told, at least I was, that out of every 100 people out there, one is a warrior. Now apply this to today. No, we do not expect everyone to turn and fight those that do harm to others, to believe so is naive and wishful at best. But, what is notable, and undeniable, is that the majority tends to turn the other cheek and ignore what is going on, or simply “worry about themselves”.
This train of though doesn’t just apply to a situation where people may find themselves in harms way. No, it applies to everyday life on the smallest of scales. If a child is seen drowning at a beach you will see the same numbers. If there are 100 beachgoers and one man, woman, child, transvestite, gay, gender neutral, person, is seen drowning you will not see 99 people rush into the water to save them. You may see a small handful rush into the water, and a much smaller number than you would like to think. Everyone else will point at the child and shout, “Oh my god somebody do something!” But we can break this down further, on an even simpler level.
A little girl cuts her foot in a way that her life is not in any immediate danger and she is not at risk of losing her foot. Infection alone is slim. But as I mentioned at the beginning of this story, we still choose to do nothing. Why? Because in 2016 it has become easier to look the other way, or even worse, it is easier for people to be mean to each other instead of nice and compassionate. This is why the world is falling apart.
Before anyone gets the chance to do so, I have been guilty of this as well. Before moving to Colorado I had very little interaction with homeless people and in boulder they are prevalent. I encountered a man begging for change and I ignored him and made my way to class. I forget how the subject was brought up, but my story became the class discussion. I explained how I simply kept listening to my music and didn’t acknowledge the man. My teacher, who was younger than myself, put me in my place. “That is the worst thing you can do,” she said. Say no if you want, but to pretend like they don’t exist is simply horrible.” What she was getting at, she explained, was that it is better to at least have the courage to say no instead of ignoring their existence. I couldn’t stop thinking about this situation all day. At a bar later I had a handful of beers and reflected. “She’s right,” I told myself. I had become the very person I often criticized. My rationale at the time was that it was easier for me to ignore the man instead of simply saying no. I didn’t have to give the man anything, which is also okay. But to ignore his existence was mean, and easier than being nice. I swore never to make that mistake again.
On another occasion I put a man into an Uber, a car ride to get home for those of you who live under a rock, in order to get him home. The man was more than likely homeless, but he had a place he was trying to get to. He claimed he was trying to get to his uncles house in town, about a 20-minute drive. People around explained that it was at least a two-hour walk. I estimated the man to be in his mid forties or so, and he was limping and had a cane. I couldn’t imagine this man trying to get home in these conditions and offered him a ride if he promised not to kill the driver. “I would be on my very best behavior sir, thank you so much!” he replied. The man got home and it took approximately $12 on my end to ensure that he got there safely. When I told a friend of this deed later on they tried to explain that although this is a kind gesture, it is not my problem or my responsibility. Again, this is the problem. The rationalization of why I should have turned the man away and worried about myself.
I spent my entire military career in a sniper platoon, and a major part of this particular job was observation, which we defined as, “The acquisition of facts and recordings of specific information pertaining to the perception of details regarding persons, objects, places, and events.” We would spend hours at a time training and observing everything from people to traffic patterns, establishing a “baseline”. To put it simply a baseline is how things are on a day-to-day and/or hourly basis. There is traffic from time “A” to time “B” and people act in a certain manner during certain periods of time. If you were to watch the same area of a college for a week you would see a constant baseline- people moving from class to class, wearing certain clothes, and acting in a certain manner. Skills such as observation and situational awareness- always having a vital understanding of time and place and how they relate to you, your companions and others around you at any given moment in any place, work, home or recreation- don’t go away when you leave the military. I spend a lot of time watching, listening, and interpreting people in day-to-day life. In the last five years of observation I have observed- in person, on the news, word of mouth, and so on- that people tend to ignore issues that do not directly pertain to themselves or those they care about. I have watched, I have listened, and I am disgusted.
Myself, and those that I fought beside, those who died, didn’t do so for people to stand idly by as the world falls apart. Like any other change it has to start at the lowest level- with everyday people. It starts with caring about your fellow man and having the courage to do the right thing, to be a good person. We have all heard that courage is doing the right thing when nobody is looking. It can be even harder when you're under the microscope of friends and family. This should never stop you from doing the right thing.
Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Don’t be part of the masses that watch as tragedy, big or small unfolds. Be the warrior that has the courage to be kind and righteous, even though it is far easier to turn the other cheek and join the indifferent or the cruel. Give the little girl a bandage.