CHRIS BATTAGLIA

Thoughts

Proving Points

There is a woman on Avenue A and 6th street. She is crossing from east to west with a group of people, it appears, after dinner.

I, myself, didn't see the traffic signal, but I'm fairly certain it was changing to red. But already the clique was nearly across the street.

Ten meters from the cub, this woman changes step. She turns south-facing, throws her head down, and braces herself.

The white SUV gradually chants with its horn, until in less than a second or two, the car screeches to the backs of her panted legs.

Who is this woman? A local resident? Pacifist? Is she proving a point? No matter. She almost landed herself in the hospital. Either that, or "six feet under." Worth  the point to prove? No, and here's why.

"How valuable is your life?"--I ask my imagination's figment of this woman. "Is it worth the months bedridden, the possibility of years undergoing medical treatment and supervision, or worse, finding death this way? People will grieve. Because someone was speeding in their automobile.

"But she was trying to prove a point!" you utopians proclaim.

It sounds like a cry for help, if you ask me. If you remove the context, it resembles a suicide attempt. 

My father used to lean into a stern reprimand with "What, are you trying to kill yourself?!" And I think about this woman's unabashed motion towards death. I can only conclude that the principle was of greater value to her, than her own vitality.

On one hand--this person placed so much trust/faith/life/respect in the hands of someone whom--on principle--she distrusted, disliked, etc.

"there are just some people who need to learn a lesson!" I imagine her proclaiming from her mound. Her pedestal. Though her high horse, in this case, looks more like an ass.

Don't get me wrong--I love proving a point. I appreciate social change and reformation by doing something. But not this. This is not martyrdom. The yellow signs in the east village neighborhood that read CHILDREN AT PLAY or SLOW DOWN are not harboring residents like her to a traffic coup. There is no march or parade for peace along the blacktop.

Perhaps there was a hatred for New Jersey residents driving in the city--I hear that's a thing. Maybe there were glasses of wine involved on her end. I reckon  she lives in the neighborhood and feels she was doing the neighborhood justice. I'm unfamiliar with martyrdom, but…

Here's my issue: this is an important matter of discussion. Sort of. In the scheme of things? That's my umbrella question. People are provoking the wrong battles; they are too small.

I think about an image I saw once. It bears a little girl holding a poster and reads, "Forget weed, legalize my mother."

On the small streets in the fairly quaint but quirky East Village, a woman plants herself in front of a car running a red light. Traffic lights, speed limits--there are built-in checks and balances to a system that is inherently fallible. When you give a free willed person the power of machine--of something potentially life-threating--anything can happen.

We don't need folks losing their lives to try and uphold their own truths, because there are more pressing, self-evident affairs about which to worry. War, disease--these are issues by which many lose their lives. This traffic incident would have likely make a few local papers.

In a few days or weeks time, it would have blown over--and it should. Because there is no legal proceeding or medical result that would surprise anyone. The crime: speeding, reckless abandon, manslaughter/felony. The result: dead or wounded woman. Insurance monies take their place, lawsuits, etc.

As I write this, a commotion stirs the 6 train uptown at 110th street and Lexington avenue station.

A young woman, very helplessly and seemingly unaware, buries her head in her hands. She has just fallen ill, very low responsiveness, and the young man accompanying her is the one providing her upright posture with his own, making sure she makes it out of this subway car in good form.

Perhaps we don't need to fight small battles, and instead, stand tall as a support beam does. Set an example, and not be the example. If we do this, maybe we can ensure everyone comes away not flattened on our neighborhood pavement., but standing a little straighter than before.

6:28 PM on 5/9/13