I am a pacifist. I admit it. I don't want to fight anybody. I embrace the world on the basic assumption that nobody wants to fight me. Why should I fight them? That's not always the case.
I remember during the space race. How the Soviets were putting a satelite in space: Sputnik. Then a man: Yuri Gagarin. And that was bad. We were the good guys. They were the evil Soviets. We had to win the space race. Put a man on the moon, and bring him back again. And do the other things. Within this decade. Because we are great we would stick it in their face. And I thought differently. Why don't we work together? I wrote an eighth grade essay where I suggested that astronauts and cosmonauts work together to explore space. Why not? We both want the same things, don't we? Wouldn't it make sense to work together? We could pool our green stamps! Buy a soldering iron or something.
I was the kid who was always bullied in school. Tall for my age. Gangly. Nerdy. Pubescent when I should be pre-pubescant. Attracted to girls when they weren't attracted to me. Then I didn't know what to do when they were. Awkward. Out of the ordinary. Out of sync with my childhood peers. One step ahead or behind. Couldn't care about sports. Liked to read. Liked to ask questions. Liked to have answers. Liked to like. Was fascinated by the space program. Liked math. Smelled like a chemistry set. Generally without a clue. Not ready for life. Still not.
Spit balls shot from the tough kids in the back of the room hit my head. Roughed up in the halls. My books stolen and dumped in the 'forbidden' elevator. Did you do that, Jonathan? Did you use the school's elevator? We found your books there. No. Even then I realized the question was ridiculous. Why ask me? Does the presence of one of my books in the elevator incriminate me? Do you really think I'd use the forbidden elevator and then leave incriminating evidence behind? Talk about clueless! The Intellegencia aren't!
All I wanted to do was do my lessons and learn from the teachers. Who were these cretins bothering me? And if I returned in kind? If I got my own pea shooter and shot back? They squealed to teacher. Look! He's shooting spit balls at us! He's a bully! That's how it always works. They shit in you. If you shit back, you're the toilet.
Once, while playing during recess in the school yard, a couple of bullies grabbed me and pulled me around the corner of the building. One held me with my arms behind my back and another hit me. I had enough. I hit the one holding me in the ribs with my elbow. Thump! Thump! Soft impacts between the harsh clutch of arms. Thump! I felt like I was striking the feet of the gods and they were clay. Thump!
He started to let go. He wasn't invincible after all!
Just then a teacher, who had noticed our fight, came along and broke it up.
You were doing good, he said. Stand up to them and fight for yourself! He was a tough guy and wanted me to be tough, too. I knew he thought I was a wimp. You have to stand up for yourself in this world and fight! You'd better learn that soon! What to do. Bullied by bullies and bullied by teachers who wanted me to fight back against the bullies, just like the bullies, by being a bully.
Fight! Fight? I don't like to fight. I don't want to fight. I don't believe fighting does anything. Not anything good. If I lost I would be nothing. A pulverised, beaten down scum of the big boys, forever trod under their feet. And if I won? Would I be right? Does anybody ever fight to be right? You either fight to gain or fight not to loose. Nothing more. Does a school house bully's might make him right? Do they even care what is right? Do I really want to live there? In their world? Do I want to be that?
And I stood in the school yard, by the building, around the corner from the playground, in the bully field, and asked myself: Can I fight the bullies to be right? Suppose I did?
And what would that make me?