Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Conscience of the King: Doing Good in the Cracks

One need not carry a diagnosis of OCD to skip over the cracks in sidewalks.  I remember the hops, skips and jumps over line, cracks and other marginalia in the Brooklyn sidewalks that grew me up. It was a great game of heroic feats and high athleticism. We all did it; sometimes we’d go back over the same strip of pavement just to do it better.

 Jumping over the cracks doesn’t always work out the way we intend; it is less heroic than we at first thought. It is missed opportunity. Nothing really happens on or in the matrix of the solid sidewalk. We often meet the monolith there, and when we meet others, we tend to find them about their business, behaving more like cyborgs than Buber’s thou . It’s where the matrix breaks, on the margins, in the cracks that we meet the other; and that’s the place where we can do some good: the crack’s the thing…

 Down in the cracks we walk dry-shod, the tentative walls of the matrix on either side; there we meet the other in meaningful purpose, and with no little sense of urgency. Safe from the gray thoughts of the boardroom, from the inane humming of people taking the wide roads, from the dull thinking of expedience at all cost, we come face to face with the other on the borders of willing the good. We are encouraged to walk a little faster.

 It is an interesting moment where conscience verges on an act of the will: liminality, on the precipice of doing good: something of a leap of faith. Walking faster  with each other to a purposeful destination clearly in sight opens us up to will the good, even if we have to grab a hand and pull a little. We do some good when we recall that will without love is coercion; will acting with insight toward the good of the other is righteousness. Fascinating things can happen on the margins, on the frontiers, in the cracks. I hope to meet many people there.

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