Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Real Life Lessons from the Bronx

As most of you know, I was born and spend the first 20 years of my life living in the Bronx. And although that area is traditionally looked down upon as breeding ground for imbeciles and doofi, it nevertheless provides a real education regarding the world and how it works.
Let’s start with the schoolyard. If you’re a kid who’s clever, glib and quick-witted, you think everyone will like you because you’re fun, have lots of friends and are the life of the party.
But what the Bronx teaches you is that the majority of people are slow-witted, petty and prone to violence. And it pisses them off that you have personality and talent and they don’t. Why should you be so fortunate and popular when their life stinks?  And maybe it’s time somebody taught you that nobody likes a showoff. And it is during that serious beating and public humiliation that you learn not to display your talents and good fortune in front of those who have neither.
Lesson two: You’ve worked hard, sacrificed, risked everything and finally, after years of unrelenting toil, you’ve made it! You’re a success.
So you go back to the hood to show your friends and family that the local kid made good. And they’ll be happy for you because let’s face it, the world loves a winner!
While you’re buying drinks and flashing cash and checking the time on your Rolex, while you’re showing off that big diamond ring and platinum card, you are also reminding those whose life has been one failure after another, of all the things they want and can’t have.  And why should you have all the money and status when they got nothing?  Maybe it’s time that somebody taught you that nobody likes a showoff.
And when you wake up in a hospital room with a knot on your head the size of a softball and all your money and jewelry is gone, it is here that the Bronx points out that the world Does Not love a winner, in fact, just the opposite. So don’t parade your successes before the unsuccessful.
And now for the most important lesson. A young, attractive, fun-loving woman dresses up for a night on the town with her girlfriends. She puts on her sexiest clothes, her prettiest shoes, and has her hair and nails done. She’s worked hard that week and deserves a good time.
And she has one.   
All the guys want to dance with her, buy her drinks and get her number. As it gets late her friends try to convince her that it’s time to go.
But she’s having so much fun! Besides, she’ll be all right. She’s a big girl.
The majority of the guys ogling her will try to convince her to come home with them and when she refuses, they’ll walk off disappointed and a bit pissed off but that will be it.
There are predators out there who think such a women needs to be taken down a peg. Get taught that you don’t go parading around in a mini skirt and low cut blouse if you ain’t gonna put out. And where does she get off teasing and flirting like that, all full of herself. Just who does she think she is? Maybe it’s time that somebody taught her that nobody likes a showoff.
But that’s so unfair, you say. Why shouldn’t people be able to display their talents, their financial successes, or take pride in their sexuality?
Because, as the Bronx teaches, the world is filled with bitter, angry, and vindictive people. People whose ugly isn’t just skin deep, it goes well past the bone and burrows into their soul. People whose only joy in life is making other people suffer.
That’s why.
I will now quote an incredibly insightful saying that I just made up. Here it is:
So what is the difference between RIGHT and SMART? 
Being RIGHT comes with a price. It gets you hurt physically, emotionally and financially. Because if you want to change the way people think, if you want to change the world, remember, every revolution has its birth in blood and the only question you have to answer is how much are you willing to shed?
The Bronx however, teaches us from the very beginning the importance of being SMART. It teaches us that the world is a dangerous and violent place and that you must always be aware of your surroundings; always know who is on the street with you and to always remain one step ahead of the predators.  Because, as the Bronx warns us, the Son of Sam still is, and will always be, out there. And every day he takes a face from the ancient gallery and walks on down the hall.
Just ask Kitty Genovese.   

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