I visited him once when he was in jail but my memory is starting to go (see my Alzheimers story for why) so I’m afraid I can’t remember if this was the time he handcuffed himself to a police officer in protest to a war or it was the time he was having a bipolar episode, stripped naked and started roaming the streets looking for young girls. Either way he was a living protest and most people are enraptured by that sort of charisma. I was young and thought it was brave to visit a man in prison.
“Nobody else has visited me but you,” he said. It took me an hour to get in there. They had to do some sort of background check to convince themselves I wasn’t a criminal. By some reverse logic, the theory was that if I were a criminal, I probably shouldn’t be in a room filled with people exactly like me. Well…maybe that’s true. But I wasn’t yet the man I am today.
Is it bad to say that I really had only one question for him: “Have you been raped?”
“Look at me,” he said, and its true – when he wasn’t in full “NO WAR” mode he was a very ugly man. “I spend my days writing letters, I avoid the gym, and I help people with English or with their cases.”
I can’t remember the rest of that conversation.
Years later, when I was visiting other people in the city I ran into him in the street. He hugged me as if I had never gone. “I haven’t seen you in forever.”
And now I will never see him again. Thirty years of protests never worked. No wars were ever stopped. He protested Barack Obama this past year for the six or so wars the President started. Last I heard he was up on two rape charges and one of the girls was retarded. And, where he once ran a homeless shelter, he’s now homeless. There’s a benefit to help him. A celebrity is singing.
If you want drama, police, excitement, Lady Gaga, intrigue, then scream at everything, protest everything, shit on society’s shit. If you want charisma and religions then shout on top of the highest mountaintops. Do it naked. Do it with passion.
But if you want to really help people, be quiet. Listen to the leaves. Wars are very loud. But the woman you live with might look in the mirror some mornings and think today is the day she looks older. Listen to the things she’s saying without speaking. Tell her the truth – she looks beautiful and you love her. The world now will be a better place when she finally capitulates and smiles.