From Bullies to BFFs

Four and a half hours of sleep. For me, these days, not bad. At 4:30AM I decided to walk half mile down hill to McDonalds for coffee and some apple pies.

Keeping your temper is an important part of life. Mine has not been exactly angry during the recent long blog posting binge, just a little loopy from lack of sleep. Even so I’m getting more sleep than Abe Lincoln did as President. The book I’m still 25 pages from finishing described how his union soldier guards cringed outside his door when he did catch moments of shuteye. The President moaned so pitiably in his sleep they were unnerved.

Ah, but during this waking hours Abe was very much in control of his emotions. He had to be. For two and a half years he got almost non stop bad news. As his reelection campaign neared everyone thought he was toast. Gettysburg, Vicksburg and the soldier vote saved his Presidency. I’m looking forward to our Board’s midterm election next year. They went badly for Lincoln. I have to keep reminding myself that the burden on me is only the Duluth school district not the fate of the nation or the lives of a million men at arms.

I’ve been coaching my ally Art Johnston to keep his cool. Its not getting any easier after five month’s under a very dark cloud. I twitted him a bit Monday for a little crotchetyness. We had been discussing bullying and every time its on the agenda its all Art can do not to gnash his teeth.

If and when I make the time to meet the Superintendent – not easy to do with such lovely weather waiting for me outside and good books to finish – I should raise the subject of fairness.

Social scientists are discovering how fundamental the question of fairness is to humans and other animals. The sense of it is particularly strong in primates. Our nearest primate relatives Chimpanzees have made a couple alarming appearances in the news recently when they felt they were being treated unfairly. In one story a man’s testicles were bitten off when he and his wife who could no longer care for their family Chimp took their chimp treats at an animal care facility that took them in when the babies grew up to be unmanageable. The husband and wife would take their adored chimp treats which he would get to eat in front of other discarded chimps. So aroused to anger were the chimps who had been left out that when a caregiver forgot to lock a cage one angry chimp escaped and damn near killed the husband. In a similar experience a woman who was asked by a friend to help her restrain the friend’s unruly chimp got her face ripped off by the angry animal. She has since had a face transplant.

Back when I was fighting the Red Plan a few of my old friends learned the hard way that it was a disability not to be young and gorgeous in the Dixon Era. I’m afraid that legacy of favoritism may still be with us.

One person I got to know recently was hired by the District and shown their new office. When this person returned to occupy it after moving from another state to Duluth they found their office occupied. The new occupant had an influential friend in the Administration that intervened in the office assignment process. In a similar vein I heard that Art Johnston’s most vociferous accuser made sure that another top administrator’s child would be permitted to park at her school though the child was not otherwise entitled to do so. This became general knowledge when the police liaison at the school kept putting parking tickets on the car only to learn that they were all being ignored and forgiven.

Its not a big leap from bullying to Best Friend Forevering.

After I teased Art about Monday’s meeting he sat mute through Tuesday’s Education meeting while, comatose as I was from my Habitat work, I still managed a couple questions. After the meeting Art darkly and a little sarcastically asked me if he had been well enough behaved. I told him that of course he had been. He had been as quiet as a church mouse. Then I told Art that my greatest fear was that he might pop like steam valve under too much pressure. That led to a discussion of his least favorite subject bullying and favoritism.

I asked Art if he’d read George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Art said that he had. I read it for a junior high English class and it made an impression on me. I wrote down the quote and its famous amendment from that book and showed it to Art. I asked him if he remembered it. Art read it over and nodded his assent:

All animals are equal.”

“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

Art smiled wryly and headed for the parking lot. The pressure, for the moment, had been turned down a bit.