Do The Right Thing

20 Aug

For all its diversity and dispersion, there is a collective conscious to New York City.  Most often it’s evident after disaster or crops up cyclically.  There is a collective bonhomie that occurs around Christmas.  (Ironic, for a town considered so Jewish.)  Transit strikes and black-outs bring out a certain camaraderie as well.  But ordinarily, on a day to day basis, the collective consciousness usually simply appears as a collective disapproval of the behavior of others.  Not action, mind you, more of a rolling of the eye form of disapproval.
There are knowing glances that occur on buses and subways at the appearance of a group of waistband challenged youth.  (If teenagers ever discover that their attempts at intimidating us people of a certain age with their boxer shorts are actually met with pity, they will be crushed.)  Looks are traded as the inadequate headphones spill banging, tinny, repetitive thumps into the subway or bus.  (Another heads up for aggressive youth; your choice of music and volume makes us people of a certain age wonder if you have any musical sensibility whatsoever.  We don’t feel “out of touch” or intimidated by your blatant disrespect for social mores.  We just kind of pity you.)
Then there are incidents that not only garner knowing looks and breaking the cone of silence to actually comment on said incident to a stranger, there are incidents that motivate people to speak to the offender!  It is rare.  But when it does happen, my heart soars.  If I had one wish for our culture at large, it would be; SAY SOMETHING!!!!!  Speak up when you see something.  Is there a dangerous wire hanging down?  Tell someone.  Does the elevator not work?  Tell someone.  Does a child appear to be in danger?  For the love of G-d open your “I don’t want to get involved” head hole.
This rant only reinforces how happy I was to see the split second response to a man walking down Madison Avenue (across a very busy intersection) with his dog; off of the leash.  Several of us looked horrified and commented to each other.  But one extremely decent man, caught up with the offender and explained the extreme danger he was inflicting upon the dog in the name of coolness.  The offender took no heed of course, and continued on his path to the stares and horror of everyone he walked past.
Perhaps he’ll be ticketed, or overwhelmed by a roving gang of SPCA members.  Probably nothing will happen to him and his dog will continue to be a victim of a variation of the “friend as parent” syndrome.
I often wonder…if children can be removed for neglect, why can’t animals?  Where is the SPCA in this?

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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Cultural Critique


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