Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
In my first blog today I alluded to two experientially developed concepts formed in my youth that have played an overarching role in my life. I explored the first and now I will develop the second as alluded to in my title. Unlike some childhood memories there is a particular memory associated with this title of this piece that is indelibly etched in my mind. So much so that as I write this I can see the scene in my mind’s eye and in my chest feel anew the power of the emotional experience. I will relate it to you as I remember and feel it, then explain how it has had ramifications for my entire life and upon my perspective of the environment I live in.
I was eight years old, so it was 1952 and I was at the dining room table of my parent’s apartment in the Fresh Meadows section of the borough of Queens, in New York City. We lived in a two bedroom, one bath, garden apartment on the first floor. Altogether it was about 600 square feet and was occupied by my parents, my big brother and my maternal grandmother who had Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. My brother and I shared one bedroom with our grandmother. The apartment was not well-furnished, but kept spotlessly by my mother, who completely cleaned it every day, as she “popped” nitroglycerin pills for her bad heart condition. My mother had often told me that “The Doctor’s didn’t want me to have you because it would make me sick, but I wanted you so much I didn’t listen”. It was a tough burden she laid on me, probably unknowingly, but it weighed heavily on my young mind. One of my great fears of childhood was that my misbehavior would “kill” my mother. I thought of myself as being a bad boy because my mother used her illness to control my behavior and typically I remember her with a hand over her heart telling me not to do something, which most children normally did. It was only after my parent’s death that an Aunt told me that I was the best behaved boy she had ever known and wished that her two sons were as well behaved. It would have been nice to know that when I was young because I certainly neither knew, nor understood that and constantly would internally rebuke myself about my bad behavior.
On the table I had spread copies of newspaper because I was painting a model airplane that I had built. There is a feeling I can remember from childhood, that I describe as sort of a “pleasant hum”, resonating inside me that day. It was a wonderful feeling that I associate with the summer and the first day without school, as I would go outside into the Sun and play. It is a feeling of excitement and quiet contentment all at once. I felt that “hum” as I painted that model. A sudden sound from the street startled me and I clumsily spilled over the small bottle of paint on the table. My mother saw it and screamed at me, telling me that I could never paint in the house again since I was so clumsy. The paint had only spilled upon newspaper, I thought in anguish at her getting so upset. Something impelled me to run out of the house and down the street away from my mother and the constriction I felt. I ran for five blocks and arrived at a traffic circle on 188th Street. I knew that circle because it was a grassy area surrounded by hedges. In its center was a memorial stele dedicated to the first soldier to die in the Korean War. The soldier was the big brother of my big brother’s best friend. The tears of rage and sadness of the unfairness of my mother’s attack were flowing and became sobs. Afraid of people seeing me crying, I lay down on the grass next to the hedge, hidden from view and cried for a time.
In my mind I reviewed what had happened and the unfairness of my life. I felt the hurt of being accused of being bad, when it was just the accident of a child. I thought of my life in school and the older bullies who would pick on me in the schoolyard. I thought of my father, a large man with big hands, who when he got angry at me for some infraction would slap me on my face. Conviction grew in me as I cried and I thought about it being wrong for adults to pick on children the way they do and I vowed that I would never forget these feelings that I was having then, when I grew up. And then:In my mind, lying against the hedge, this thought grew and gained power. It became a command.
Don’t Hurt Little People!
Don’t Hurt Little People!
Don’t Hurt Little People!
Don’t Hurt Little People!
At age eight the tests in the elementary school had shown that I was reading at the level of a high school senior, which was far above the rest of my peers. I devoured books at that age and my parents, who had some things wrong, were right when they let me read anything I wanted to. So for an eight year old, I had a very precocious world view. Don’t Hurt Little People in my mind that day expanded to the entire world that I was then aware of. Don’t Hurt Little People expanded to the injustices those with power perpetrated upon people without power.
This was the year my father took me to see the movie High Noon, starring Gary Cooper. The movie had a great effect on my impressionable mind. It was about a Marshal facing a gang of bad men out to kill him and having none of the townspeople stand up for him, going it alone until he kills the last one and rebuffing their lame attempt to congratulate him as he rides away into the sunset. With his bride. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Noon My tears abated and I saw myself as the Marshal fighting against injustice and Don’t Hurt Little People! became my metaphor for fighting injustice and cruel behavior, despite the odds, or the opprobrium of those around me.
As I grew and learned more about the world, that original concept expanded to take in all of the injustices that humans with power perpetrate upon humans without power. This is how I’ve tried to live my life and this is the deep emotional basis of all my political and social beliefs. I am grounded not in any of the philosophical pontificating of men who would develop systems to cast this world in their own models, but in that one little thought from an unhappy child. Don’t Hurt Little People! As Rabbi Hillel supposedly said of the “Golden Rule”, all the rest is commentary.
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
Please note that these two blogs were written as my last actions as a guest blogger on the Turley Blog and that I will not be commenting any further as well. This last piece is about my lifelong commitment to fighting for those who are being oppressed and who are being bullied. When I first began commenting here it was because I had seen Jonathan on TV and was impressed by him and his struggle for civil liberties. I supported him through the years and was honored and thrilled when he asked me and others to be a guest blogger. In all the many blogs I’ve written here Jonathan has never called me to task for their content and I appreciate that as well.
However, it has come to pass that there is a fundamental difference in approach between Jonathan and myself about certain blog rules. Those of you who are regulars will understand just what I am talking about, for those mystified by my decision they can write me after tomorrow at Mikespindell@gmail.com, which is an E mail account I’ll be setting up. I want to thank Jonathan for giving me this opportunity and I’m truly sorry it is not ending well. There is a possibility that I will set up my own blog, or perhaps I will just fade into the “obscurity” that some GB’s have threatened will be my lot if I leave. In this context perhaps my last two guest blogs will be seen as having deeper meanings and a more thorough explanation of who I am.
37 thoughts on “Don’t Hurt Little People!”
I’d comment but I’ve had my A$$ handed to me by the professor…. But you are correct I think…. But there was more going on behind the scenes that most weren’t privy too….
can’t believe what im reading… Mike S has left!! that means a certain individual thinks they won. what what they really did was put this blog in a piece of darkness….. i came here for years reading and reading then finally got up the nerve to begin posting and i witnessed the bs that was always put into place by 1 individual. and when called on their bs. they attempted to turn it around.. to bad JT allowed that to happen
As the old saying goes, “Wherever you go, there you are” and thankfully your wise words will continue to shine like a beacon wherever you land.
Keep writing, somewhere. Your honesty in expressing your belief in the potential of all of humanity, and the acceptance of differences has been a pleasure to read.
Like many (if not all), I will miss your posts. They have been cogent and penetrating about deeply meaningful topics.
I am saddened and mystified about your fallout with Mr. Turley, also an excellent writer and keen observer of America’s constitutional crisis. I hope that time and communication will someday repair the rift (and that I don’t I don’t lose track of your blogging).
one thing about Mike, his moral compass always points to true north.
gonna miss that
Oh, Mike, “I will not be commenting any further as well” this makes me very sad! While I understand, I hope you will reconsider. Thank you for your thought-provoking blog postings and commentary. I enjoyed them. Peace be with you.
I am so sorry you are leaving Mike. Your postings will be sorely missed and I wish you well.
“It has been decided as you may have expected; all judges had rather that ten innocent should suffer than that one guilty should escape.” — Mary Shelly, Frankenstein
Good to know that one of the innocent has escaped.
Yes, yes, yes, you grow-up in the era of “spare the rod, spoil the child” – such a pity really, as did many of us poor souls who had to endure such challenges, just a simple little maelstrom of misadventure due to the ignorance of adults in that particular time-frame of history, and so common in that type of behavior as to not be worth mention. No parent is perfect, EVER, partucular not in time-frame you speak of.
“Don’t Hurt Little People! became my metaphor for fighting injustice and cruel behavior”.
Apparently there is nothing wrong with making a name for oneself off of lost legal cases, cases of death and injury, whereby the little people suffer and you gain by it.
Thanks for your many blog postings, Mike. I have enjoyed reading them and the sociological perspective you bring to a discussion of contemporary issues. Good luck to you in the future.
Mike: I used to visit this blog quite often in the past and then stopped due to other things I had to take care of. As an appointed member of the anti-bullying committee nominated by the mayor of the City, I often go to different schools to talk about it and the term I use a;; the time is,” Do not hurt yourself”.
It is very touching what you said and you will be missed for sure. I can not thank you enough for your contribution on this blog.
I wish you all the best for your next stepping stones.
I am reminded of the Randy Newman song called Short People. Here are some of the lyrics. My memory is from prior life as a human living in St. Louis near the midget patch neighborhood.
Short people, got no reason,
Short people got no reason to liiiive.
They go little bitty eyes, and little bitty feet.
And little bitty voices going peep peep peep.
We don’t want no short people.
Don’t want no short people.
Don’t want no short people round here.
On the contrary, tall people owe short people a debt of gratitude for making their position possible.
Where would tall people be without short people for comparison?
Without short people, tall people would be just ordinary people.
The only reasonable conclusion is that short people are essential for the hierarchy that gives so much meaning to the world as it is today.
Anytime you see a tall person you can count on one fact, somewhere down there is a short person who makes it all possible.
You will be missed….. I appreciate your input… I have learned greatly….. I appreciate all that you have done … You mean a lot to me….. I will visit….
Via con Dios
May you have fair winds and following seas, Mike.
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