Wakeful Thinking

I awoke in the wee hours of the morning with heavy thoughts of the Illinois man and his two young sons (and 4 month old Lab puppy) who ventured out for a hike, but never made it back.  The puppy survived. The story is tragic, but that needle moved further to gaspingly tragic when a motorist said that he spied them in the afternoon, walking in the rain by the road.  He offered a ride, but it was declined.

A reminder that at junctures of time and space our choices have consequences that cannot be known.  As I lay in bed, wakeful, that juncture floated in my brain like a dark specter. I thought of the motorist and had the motorist not stopped and read the news, what dark specter would he be living with.  I thought of the wife informed of the motorist's intercession in the collective plight of her husband and sons, and the greater despair she must feel that a different outcome was in reach for her loved ones.

I'm not in the 'everything happens for a reason crowd'.  I just don't believe that life is that pat, or that there is an other worldly being that hovers over these junctures and waves a wand to dictate outcomes.  Rather, I believe that our choices have consequences, intended or otherwise. And that a large measure of life for many on this earth is a toil of everyday survival with endings that are not at all fairy tale--well perhaps for the victims before our beloved heroes and heroines step into the picture.

The Lance Armstrong scandal will likely hit a new level after the Oprah show, tomorrow.  I don't have any celebrity following genes in my body, so for the most part I don't get worked up about scandals for celebrities or for ordinary people.  We all share the same genes, and accordingly, our proclivities fueled by our human-ness are shared by all of us.  As social beings, we are as susceptible to the pressures that surround us whether we be gang members or elite cyclists or just suburbanites.  We run in packs, and pack rules get assimilated as our rules.  Best to be part of an enlightened pack.

It takes real courage and clear sightedness to cut through that social goo.  Slavery, women's rights, worker's rights, pollution, child labor are but a few social goo issues that have been assiduously scrubbed from the patina of our society--though many linger.  I don't get caught up in Lance Armstrong's fight with testicular cancer, because I have a colleague who shows up every day with liver cancer.  She fights her battle with courage and grace and is not in the spotlight of the world, but rather lives in the spotlight of her family and friends.  How is her battle less courageous. 

No, I don't excuse Armstrong's doping because he is a hero to many.  Heroes walk amongst us everyday:  parents caring for young children and aging/ill parents, workers cobbling together part time jobs to provide for their family and stave off homelessness, individuals of every color, age and gender trying to make the right choices in the face of those terrible junctures of time and space where 'shit happens'.

Armstrong could have made a different choice.  Winning at all costs is not winning--it is a phantom achievement where we have traded our integrity for an award.  That is not courage. That is not grace.  That is a choice that has a consequence if one is caught--or at the very least surrounded and implicated to the point of being caught.

The measure of a wo/man is how they comport themselves through that rabbit hole of perdition and the person s/he becomes when they emerge other side.

The measure of a society is how we allow an individual to be successful in their personal, redemptive transformation and allowing them the freedom to conduct themselves to repair the damages for their actions.


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