Friday, May 13, 2016

Mallets for Auction

I wrote a blog this afternoon titled “Three Descents to Hell Below Hell,” spurred on by the next speechless act of depravity that lowered the bar of human decency a few miles below the floor of Hell. In that (unpublished) blog, I referenced the 1950’s Emmet Till story and the descent through three levels of horror, each more unbelievable than the last.
1)    A brutal killing of a 14-year old boy spurred by a culture of white supremacy.
2)    A shameless acquittal of the murderers by an all-white jury.
3)    A shameless-beyond-shameless interview with Look magazine a few years later with the murderers proudly admitting they did it and receiving $4000 for the article.
And then I fast forwarded to yesterday’s news, a modern replay of how far we’ve sunk.
        1)  George Zimmerman murders Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year old and feels justified.
         2)    Surprise! The jury acquits him!

3)  He decides to sell the gun he used to kill online as an American Firearm Icon, starting bid $5000. Because after all, who wouldn’t want to own a weapon that killed an innocent black teenager to show off to one’s friends? Worth every penny of the $5000.
      The next twist in the story sent me down to the Hell below Hell and made me doubt how there could be a single redeeming feature in an American culture that created this story, that supported it, that made money off of it, that legally allowed it to happen, that morally allowed it to happen. Because according to the news, the next day the bids had risen to $65 million dollars!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope it took you a while to close your mouth. It took me about five minutes and then I opened it again via the blog. Why I didn’t I print it?
Well, the next twist in the story suggests that the auction was hijacked and that the $65 million bidder was named Racist McShootface. I also found out that, in an attack of conscience, refused to post the offer. But the United Gun Group had no such qualms.
So how weird is it that I feel relieved that the price didn’t go up to $65 million? That fact that it's for sale at all and that there were a thousand sincere offers for the weapon is enough to make one wonder what the hell is happening in this country. What kind of human being would want to own such a thing? What kind would want to sell it? What kind would feel just fine about posting it on their site?  What kind of culture do we have that spawns such people, lets them run loose, rewards them?
Every time the bar of common human decency lowers, the whole culture sinks down and starts to accept a lower standard of what’s acceptable. Witness Trump. And that’s damn scary. We can’t just pass it off as a few fringe lunatics. Such folks we’ve always had, but we’ve had a bar high enough to either get them help or lock them up or morally condemn them. Now they get to run for President or sell Death Weapons for big profit.
Okay, I know these blogs are no fun to read and certainly no fun to write and beyond just one little pipsqueak voice registering its outrage and stupor and alarm, what good does it really do? So my plan was to offer a counter-auction and sell something that stood for goodness and life and love. And here's what I came up with: 

A couple of years ago I walked through my colleague Sofia's 1st grade music class and stopped to listen. One of the kids who had been struggling in music and other subjects was playing the glockenspiel and it sounded great. After the piece was over, Sofia asked how I liked it and I said, 

“Each and every one of you sounded fantastic! But I have to say there was one who really caught my ear, who sat so alert and ready and poised to play and always came in at the right time and played with such a beautiful tone and so much confidence and it just lifted my heart right up and made me smile from ear-to-ear. So I’m going to walk around the circle and stop behind that student.”
And so I did and the student was so surprised. Sofia later told me that she thought it meant a good deal to him and his sense of musical self-esteem and ability to contribute to the group raised several feet higher. 

And so I've decided to sell the mallets he was using on United as a reminder to work for Life and Love. All profits to go to helping teachers to love their students and lift them up so the Zimmermans will be no more. Or rather, the culture that spawns them, that legally sanctions their transgressions, that allows them to profit from evil deeds, will be no more.
Starting bid? $5000. Top price? $65 million. May it begin!

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