Upsetting
Sunday, May 02, 2004
 
The words from the father to the son: Violence is failure.

All those years ago, the pretty boy talked about how we here in California were afraid to merge, and he’s still right all these non-pretty years later. You remember the cocaine sun, don’t you? Get over to the right away.

Violence is a failure, he tells the son, but it is universal, no like no other tongue humans wag. It may have dialects, but it is as unmistakable in Castilian Spanish as it is in Mandarin Chinese. Sometimes, he tells his boy, it’s the only thing people understand, better than the own thoughts in their own heads.

But never forget that it is failure.

Like a business organization that says it is a diverse employer but is not truly.

Were the company you work for diverse, it would exhibit diversity all levels; foster diversity in formal and informal ways throughout the organization; and uncover and root out bias and discriminatory practices.

It does none of these, so it cannot truly call itself diverse.

You put on that old Red Sox t-shirt and sit down to strum out a few chords, No. 5 fading to pink on the back of the gray shirt. GARCIAPARRA, it says, the name beautiful and unique and pleasing to pronounce. You say it out loud while wondering if he is still on the team. GARCIAPARRA.

The chord you start with is an F sharp, right there at the second fret, and you knot your fingers into a passable barre chord. The first time you picked up a guitar to learn how to play and every time since, the same person has entered your mind. An Englishman born in Turkey who called himself Strummer. The balls of that, you think, picking up a guitar and calling yourself Strummer.

He is in your mind as you hold the F sharp. That is your environment.

Something is in F sharp, and you realize it’s that Tracy Chapman blues. You start it, thinking of Tracy and Strummer, about what the man tells his son about the violence.

It’s like what you imagine the top of a skiing course – what do they call them, runs? – to be, though you’ve never skied and wouldn’t like to.

The chord and Tracy’s blues take you away.

Like Strummer, you have taken up arms against the violence.
 
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