Don’t Hurt Little People!

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

ChildhoodIn 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. 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, 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!”

  1. Mike, a Scottish proverb for you:

    Cha d’dhùin doras nach d’fhosgail doras.

    (No door ever closed, but another opened.)

    As for trolls, another Scottish proverb:

    Cha tèid nì sam bith san dòrn dùinte.

    (Nothing can get into a closed fist.)

    A Gaelic folk song by Julie Fowlis: Òganaich Uir A Rinn M’ Fhàgail (Oh, Noble Youth Who Has Left Me)

  2. Mike, I appreciate you opening up about some of your family history. You have always seemed to me to be among the most sensitive and caring of men. Embracing the “Don’t Hurt Little People!” thesis as your personal vanguard has been present in most of your writings, and as Paul Harvey might say, now we know the rest of the story. Wishing you the best in 2014.

  3. Mike.

    Don’t give up blogging even if you are no longer blogging here.

    My best wishes go with you. I have always found your posts of value.


  4. Mike S,

    If you need any pointers setting up your blog, let me know.

    It is easy on Google, and there is no fee or charge.

    Your best blogging days are ahead of you bro.

  5. High Noon was a great movie, way more complex than we remember. But the rest of that stuff, dude, you got to lay those burdens down.

  6. I’m very sorry to see you go, Mike S., but my best wishes go with you.

  7. Mike,

    Well this doesn’t make for a very promising 2014.

    I’m really sorry to see you go. Your posts were always interesting, passionate, and filled with “heart”. Most especially, you had invaluable credentials that helped to stave off the barbarians. You’re a little too wacky with the conspiracy theories, but what the hell – it makes you even more interesting.

    Best of luck, Mike. I hope we will be seeing you at some other spot on the web. And it sure would be fun to have you drop in here now and again. We may need a little cheering up – civility can be awfully boring.

  8. I came to the same view but do not know how. How fortunate you remember and can share it. And as I wrote on your last GB, please keep writing.

  9. My recollection is that Gary Cooper, surrounded by townspeople asking him to remain their marshal, took off the badge, dropped it in the dirt, and walked a way.

    Some how, I don’t think this will slow down your production.

    I am pretty sure we will be reading you somewhere else, and I doubt you will be holding anything back.

    Good luck.

  10. “Don’t hurt the little people” Words to live by. Mine was “Live simply so others may simply live” Now I have another phrase to adhere to and promote.

  11. Wow MikeS,

    Your articles are a bit overwhelming this week.

    I’m supportive of whatever you believe you need to do.

    I’ve come to know you as a good & decent human being, just the kind of person I admire.

    I’ll be reading back over your work tomorrow & see what my thoughts look like then.

  12. Mike,

    A beautiful philosophy that brought/brings much good into others lives.

    When I first came on this blog, you were sick and not posting much. Others made reference to you to the point that when you went in to the hospital, even though we had only communicated on a very few posts, I felt an anxiety that was not assuaged until your wife posted that you had survived the surgery.

    In the meantime, I went about the business of fulfilling my purpose in entering this house … learning about the Supreme Court and the legal ins and outs of the Constitution. Vince, mespo, Gene, Bob Esq, and a host of others were posting constantly, arguing points of Constitutional law in a most vigorous manner and I learned, boy did I learn. They even, on occasion, yelled at me … can you imagine?! It was marvelous!

    I thank you all.


  13. Mikester:

    I can not remember as much as you do about childhood. I had a good childhood. But I just can not remember all that much. Of course, that was in a prior life and in this incarnation as a dog I recall most everything since leaving the litter.

    I will write to you on your new email.

  14. Mike, I knew what you were doing and I believe most people here are moral, decent people and understood what you were doing. I hope I haven’t contributed in any way to bringing things to a head here. I think the trouble was brewing before I arrived. Bullying has been something I also cannot abide, my own behavior is influenced negatively and becomes something I’m not at all proud of when I attempt to defend myself or others, I find myself becoming aggressive and striking back too hard.

    I totally understand what you mean when you say “Don’t hurt the little people”. Perhaps the littlest person is the bully, something terrible must’ve happened to him/her to make them behave so cruelly.

    I admire people who live their lives treating others with dignity and kindness and I live with regrets when I slip into the behavior I loathe in others. None of us are perfect, it’s the striving that counts.

  15. Mike,

    There are those who try to silence the individuals who speak out and stand up for the “little people” and those less fortunate than they. You care about others and write from the heart. You have been a most valued voice on this blog. You will be sorely missed.

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