Friday, September 14, 2012
there's no such thing as a utopia, even here in Sweden
so there aren't any pictures to go along with this post, it is simply an observation that I think means something for all of us, regardless of whether we are designing or building or investing or creating. this is about the fundamentals of being human, of sharing a space on this earth together, and about breathing the same air. I have, and always will, abide by the "we're all in this together" philosophy about pretty much everything from sports to work to politics. I think everyone on this planet should live with a little or a lot of that philosophy...
I was performing my evening "ride around and look for pickup soccer games" routine the other night when I arrived to a neighborhood park (the neighborhood is not important here, but I can say that I had been there before and the people were hospitable and that the area is generally perceived, according to local residents, as a less desirable and certainly less affluent location in the city).
I was on the edge of the park, mostly out of the mainstream sight from the kids on the soccer field. there was a ball sitting about 15 meters off of the field in the sand and there were about 8 kids, ages 6-12 or so sitting in the middle of the field talking. the kids looked to be persian in descent and seemed to be speaking swedish. two young black kids, probably about 6-10 years old slowly approached the field from my left as I watched.
the oldest and tallest of the group of kids in the middle of the field jumped up and started yelling loudly at the two boys, who slowly continued approaching the field. immediately the rest of the kids stood up and began yelling as well. there were hand motions and more yelling and the group in the middle of the field started to advance toward the boys who were approaching from the side. the two boys approaching the field slowed drastically, to the point where it was clear as an outside observer that they were no longer going to enter the field itself. they turned onto an altered course and paralleled the field, aiming to go around it or at least not onto the soccer pitch.
wheels were turning in my head as I started to pedal off. I got about 50 meters before I slowed, turned a 180, and went back to the field.
"hey kid, can I ask you a question" I said to the tallest boy, who was still near the edge of the field. "yeah"
what were you all yelling to those two boys?"
"it didn't sound like nothing"
"it was nothing"
"what did you say to them?"
"I told them that my cousin was getting the ball and they didn't need to get it"
I could tell by the look on his face that his story was adjusted to suit my needs and he was hoping I would go away. I asked again for a third time in a slightly different tack to see if he would tell me what was really going on. his story evolved a final time, but he never admitted to what I think was happening. if it weren't for the "hand in the cookie jar" look on his face and the exuberance of he and his friends' yelling, I might have believed him, but I didn't.
at that point I felt that there was little progress to be made, so I simply said to the kid, "I think everyone should be allowed to play in the park and on the soccer field, no matter where they come from"
I pedaled off toward home, feeling slightly better but mostly worse.