The Making of Life
Existence is the beginning and the end. It is the goal of every potentiality curled inside a shadow. To exist is to matter. After that, the goal becomes to matter more. And then, to matter less. The journey from birth to death is a dull trip dotted with moments of terror and excitement, of joy and grief, mostly due to the acts of our fellow inhabitants. We’re all responsible in some degree for the clamor occurring in each other’s lives. For instance, did you know that Italians invented Al Sharpton?
It was in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, still a white enclave back in 1989, populated mostly by Italian-Americans, as well as many of Irish and German extraction. That’s where Yusuf Hawkins was killed, attacked by a gang of neighborhood youths and shot to death by one of them. What followed was a series of protest marches through the streets of Bensonhurst led by Rev. Al Sharpton, accompanied by civil rights attorney Alton Maddox. Both were trying to get past the embarrassment of the Tawana Brawley episode and this opportunity presented itself to them. They were going to challenge an entire white neighborhood in New York. And the neighborhood accepted the challenge. The local evening television news gave full coverage to the chanting marchers and jeering spectators, some of whom held up watermelons that were supposed to punctuate the insults. After the last march, Sharpton was stabbed by a white man who, it turned out, wasn’t from Bensonhurst and wasn’t even Italian. Reverend Al was redeemed, Bensonhurst defeated.
We give life to things. We’re not supposed to, theologically speaking. It ends badly when we do. Ask a Jew about Golem. Ask Mary Shelley about her guy. We imagine so much more about each other than we should give credit for. We imagine motive in others. We imagine their ruthlessness. We never imagine their charity, or their desire for peace. Andrew Carnegie recognized this after making billions of dollars selling steel to governments intent on surviving war. He recognized that for each government, their weapons w