"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Omicron, Bullies, And Playground Rules–Man Up!

Bobby Palmer was a fourteen year old, six-foot, 150 pound bully.  He blocked doorways, pushed, shoved, and tripped his classmates daring them ‘to do something about it’.  He was a mediocre student, a poor athlete put on the football team only as a big piece of meat; and sloppy, careless, and clumsy, he was of no interest to girls.

Image result for images mussolini on stage

He was at his best at first bell, recess, and last bell.  Standing by the door in the morning he mussed hair, tore shirts, tossed knapsacks into the shrubbery, and smeared chocolate on clean pants.  At recess he cornered his targets on the front lawn and rolled them down the hill; harassed them on the athletic field, and stuck gum on the term papers of the few who stayed in.  

At last bell he was the first down the stairs, given a wide berth, elbowing and kicking anyone who got in his way.  He stood blocking the doorway, exacting tolls – pieces of candy, Faber pencils, or brand new erasers. 

No one told on him for fear of reprisals.  Bobby Palmer was bad enough as a tough, mean bully; but had he gotten wind of a snitch, the student would not survive the semester.  The school was a small country day school with barely fifty students, all drawn from the well-to-do nearby neighborhoods.  The families were descendants of the city’s first industrialists, the captains of industry who built the hardware, tools, and machinery that supplied the Pentagon, retail stores, and wholesale outlets.  

New Brighton industry was known nationwide as a quality supplier and thanks to its reputation, enterprise, and skill became one of the largest cities in America in the mid-1900s.  Wealth was secured and sheltered from the Great Depression thanks to canny investment, and no industrialist’s family ever had to work again. The leisure class had homes on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, skied in Gstaad, and wintered on St. Bart’s.

Image result for images st. bart's

Out of respect for their storied family heritage, the children of these scions were given far more responsibility and independence at Harper Country Day than their public school counterparts, children of the working class who manned the lathes, drills, and power wrenches of the downtown factories.  No teacher looked over their shoulders, and punitive discipline was a rarity.  Also, the ethos of the school as in its communities was conservative individualism.  Children were taught from an early age to solve their own problems, take an occasional beating, and give as good as they got.

Bobby Palmer somehow missed out on the parental instruction and the social mores of the West End.   He reveled in thuggery, power, and his ability to intimidate all comers.  Fear was adoration, abject as it might be, and Bobby thought of himself as king of the castle.  The rest of the school hated him, plotted against him in their minds, but never engineered the coup they envisaged.

The school was divided into three distinct groups according to their approach to Bobby Palmer.  There were those – the vast majority – who simply kept their distance, stepped out of the way, and arranged schedules of avoidance.  There were others who tried to ingratiate themselves with Bobby by doing favors, running errands, tripping and pushing those students that he missed on the way up or down the stairs. 

Finally there were the very few, one or two, who challenged him, fought him, and refused to put up with him. Lyle Farrell was one of those who stood their ground.  Half-WASP, half Irish bar brawler; insider because of his mother’s family, outsider because of his father’s, living on the far outskirts of New Brighton in a cabin in the woods, Lyle was the perfect foil for Palmer.  He had BB gun fights with his cousins, shot .22s at anything that moved on Meriden Mountain, and came down out of his family’s redoubt to join the upper class swells of the West End.

He fought Bobby on the front steps, on the football field, and on the front lawn.  Every night he went home black-eyed and bloodied, his country clothes ripped and tattered; but every day he went back.  After a few weeks of this Bobby saw that he could neither intimidate or beat this little weasel, gave up and turned his attention elsewhere.  But the damage had been done.  He was no longer Genghis Khan but a shabby, disreputable bully.  The sycophants left off and the rest of the school maintained their distance.

In short, everyone learned how to deal with Bobby and all bullies.  They had, unlike today, no one to protect them, to shield them from taunts and insults, to watch over them on the playground.  They had to figure things out – when to stand their ground, when to keep their distance, when to compromise and deal.  The playground was and always had been the place to wise up.  Now that opportunity is lost.  Bullying is a hanging offense.  Boys are taught to behave like girls, and schools have been transformed into progressive laboratories. 

Of course little of this happy indoctrination about love, sharing, compassion, and understanding has ever worked.  Middle school girls are still as catty and vicious as ever.  Boys are still emotional truants; and at best these competitive instincts are simply tamped down for a few academic years and then blossom in full flower once they are finally let loose in the adult world.

Image result for images anti bullying

Omicron is the latest bully on the playground, and people are struggling to figure out what to do with it.  There are those who refuse to buckle under, correctly assess the threat as relatively minor and go about their business knowing that at the very worst they will be in bed with ‘flu-like’ symptoms for a week.  They are willing to take what this uncompromising, threatening variant dishes out and deal with it.

There are others who panic, refuse to budge from their air-purified basements, return to the days of scrubbing, isolation, and suspicion.  They give in to the virus without a fight, without assessment, without logic.  They are afraid of their own shadow.  They cower, hide, and run.  The artificially constructed ideal, progressive world of good faith, obedience, right behavior, social integration, and harmony, shown to be a sham in a dog-eat-dog world which hasn’t changed in millennia, collapsed around them.

There are others, the vast majority, who simply take reasonable precautions, do the needful, and hope for the best.

Omicron has lined people up before testing centers, closed down family gatherings, shut down businesses, and created a universal suspicion of others.  America’s enemies have taken note.   In the eyes of Russians, Iranians, and Chinese, Americans run for cover. They try to live forever, weaken the national ethos with false pretenses of ‘identity’, ‘inclusivity’, and ‘diversity’ instead of joining together in a truly national union . No universally accepted principles, no unity, and no gumption. These geopolitical adversaries are now even more convinced of the lack of Americans’ lack of spine, huddling in bunkers, trembling, and afraid to emerge.

Image result for images playground fights

The liberal Left looks aghast at standing room only stadiums, concerts performed to thousands, and people simply going about their business.  They are irresponsible, reactionary, and dangerous.  They must mend their ways, listen to Anthony Fauci and the CDC, do what the President advises, care and protect others, leave individualism and personality aside.  Do the right thing.  The playground must be dismantled.  There can be no difference of attitude, ethos, or opinion.  All must pull together for the common good and towards an unreachable Utopia.

Omicron, just like Bobby Palmer, has forced a reckoning.  Some people, like Lyle Farrell, stand their ground, assess risk, and act regardless of consequences.  The toadies who sucked up to Bobby are now fearful adults loosed from their moorings.  They never learned their lesson about threat and how to deal with it, and suffer because of it.

Let playgrounds be playgrounds.  Let bullies bully and be challenged.  Let the pecking order remain.  Let weak and strong sort it out.  Stop being fearful.  Man up.

Image result for images chicken pecking order

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.