This blog’s purpose is not to solely deconstruct, but to deconstruct, sublimate, and reconstruct better. To demolish is not sufficient to goodness, we must raze, and then raise up.
Yesterday on the subway, two interesting things happened concurrently. The first reminded me of the Greek writer Diogenes, a man who lived 2000 years ago. For those who don’t know, Diogenes was a homeless man who lived in a barrel in the marketplace in Corinth, a Greek city. Because he lived in the marketplace, and liked to ramble and talk aloud while others did their shopping, the Corinthians were aware of his supreme wisdom and intellect. Apparently in ancient Greece, one’s financial situation meant much less to how one was viewed than in our society. It is said that upon conquering Corinth, Alexander the Great asked who was the wisest Corinthian. The frightened people all shouted Diogenes’ name.
“Where can I find this Diogenes?” asked Alexander.
Responded the people, “On the beach, he’s sunning himself.”
Alexander the Great and his generals went to the beach and found the old man lying on the sand, enjoying the sunlight. Alexander approached and introduced himself.
“I am Alexander. I have already conquered much of the world, including your city, and I am going to conquer all of it. I have heard you are the wisest person in Corinth. I will give you anything in my empire.”
“You will give me anything?”
“I will do anything in my power for you.”
“Well then, stand to the side, you’re blocking my sun.”
Alexander’s generals, who had overheard the disrespectful banter, wanted to slit Diogenes’ throat but Alexander stopped them by saying, “If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.”
The train yesterday was very crowded. I couldn’t find a seat, so I leaned against a pole, enviously eyeing those sitting comfortably. In front of me was an odd pairing of strangers: a financial hack in an expensive suit, reading his Wall Street Journal, next to him a homeless man talked to everyone in the crowded car and no one in particular. The banker pretended not to notice the human misery next to him; he took out a pen and chewed it, then circled a bit of information on Saudi oil flow, or the price of gold in Hong Kong, or which bank let which chief executive go with how much of a severance package. The homeless man snorted. He yelled aloud to no one, “In 200 years, no one will care who you are.” It was an amazing scene; the dichotomy between these two worldviews, one shallow and financially enviable, the other insufferable and philosophically astute, and no one noticed except for me, least of all the utterer.
I got off the subway at my stop, late for work, swearing into my teeth. Directly in front of me was a wheelchair ramp that wound around a pyramid like structure. I earnestly walked up the ramp, but stopped when I heard angry shouts behind me. 10 feet away, a greasy looking man in a wheelchair was meandering towards me.
“You got stairs, you got stairs!” he bellowed at me.
He was still many feet from me; I was not blocking his ascent. I turned and continued on my way.
“You got stairs!” he yelled a final time.
“How you know what I got?” I retorted moronically.
What I wanted to say was: “This ramp is for your ease of use, it’s to make your life easy, but it’s not to segregate us. You are demanding segregation, and segregation, like other social impurities, tends to boil and come to a head, one way or another. If you think that segregating the disabled from the able-bodied will lead to a climactic battle in which the disabled will triumph, then your lower half is obviously the least of your problems,” but I didn’t say that, I just scurried away faster than he could ever hope to roll. I thought about all the professors whose classes I’d taken who told me time and again that what had just happened to me would never happen. And then I decided to start this blog.