What Jim has learned today
I learned there are in this world those who merit our admiration. Most in this world merit our respect. There are some in this world who merit our sympathies. There are a few who merit our pity. And … there are some in this world who merit our contempt. It is not always an easy thing to understand which is due. Last week, my bicycle was stolen in the night. I left it chained to the railing on the front porch. Next morning, I walked right past the empty space where I left it several times before it occurred to me something was missing. This was not a tragedy. The bicycle was more than 10 years old. It had often been rode hard and put away wet, a malignant rust was beginning to scar the handle bars, it needed new tires, the brakes squeaked, it was ugly. Any value it had was merely sentimental. I have lost nothing. But I wonder of the thief. What has this person lost? To me, the thief, a nameless, faceless, cowardly sort of creature, very likely merits not my contempt, but my pity. Oddly, and I know this will irk some to no end, I feel a bit more than just pity for this person. I feel compassion. Really, imagine being so virtueless, lacking even a semblance of a moral compass. The social structure such a person would thrive in could only consist of others as virtueless because the honorable would reject you. You have no hope of ever being admired, or even vaguely respected. You are a thief accepted only by other thieves. There is no one you can trust and there is no one who will trust you. What a way to live. I pity such a person. I feel compassion for this person because he is stupid. Not a little stupid, but butt stupid … really, really stupid, profoundly stupid. Now, stealing some bicycles, the good ones, would be considered a felony if the value of the bike is over a certain amount. Stealing mine would be considered petty theft. This person, this thief, risked a $625 fine and 30 days in jail for … nothing. This degree of stupidity warrants compassion. How does such a stupid person get through life? What hopes could such a person have? I am not angry with this person. I do not hold this person in contempt. In fact, I wish I had a hundred old and dilapidated bicycles. I would leave one on the front porch, unchained, every night until it was gone and then set the next one out, sort of like going to the zoo and entertaining myself by throwing peanuts to the monkeys. Naw … that’s not a good analogy … I like monkeys. This is all I have learned today.
James Wares is retired and resides in Marshalltown. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org