A quick thought

Throwing judges out of office for a single unpopular decision may be reasonable in isolation (or valid in a specific case), but sets a horrible precedent for when the popular opinion isn't on your side.

Fear on the Street

I got into a small Twitter conversation last night about "walking etiquette:"
Thinking about that reminds me of something that happened over five years ago - one of those little moments that make a lifelong impression. I was in an unfamiliar city with a group of friends for a few days and during one of the nights, ended up walking back to where we were staying with three of them - another man and two women.

For whatever reason, the street was a little crowded that night with several men (maybe 30-40% full), all of whom were minding their own business, but our little group stuck out and I noticed that. The other guy got separated from us a little (I think he was walking more slowly), and I also noticed the women pick up the pace slightly, obviously a little uncomfortable, but nothing was out of the ordinary.

Then my two friends asked me - in short & nervous whisper - to hold them.

Now, I've had my share of walking around with my arm around a girlfriend's waist or over her shoulder, and with reacting to sketchy situations on the street, but this was different. My platonic friends leaned in, more comfortable with strange intimacy than walking on their own, and I found myself suddenly cast as tall male protector. I put my arms around each of them and continued down the street, comprehending fear through their body language; we got to our destination without incident.

These two women are some of the strongest people I've known. They can each hold their own in a bar, on the field, and in the spotlight; I'm sure they will each achieve respect and admiration in their chosen profession. Some people like to seek security in others, but not these two, and so their reaction took me by surprise. We weren't equal at that moment; they created a power imbalance via their body language so that anyone wanting to speak to them would be speaking to me. I was the leader, the guardian, and my arms were the security blanket.

That gap - between my expectation of that street and the reality of walking up it - seared the moment into memory. I felt both immensely honored by my two amazing friends, and also troubled that I had understood the situation so differently than them. So ever since then, when I walk down the street and see someone or something that might make someone feel unsafe, I try to be deliberate about what I do so that all parties can breath more easily. I can't know how they feel, but because of past experience I can try to react in ways to make all parties feel as safe as possible.