It is raining like crazy this morning in New York City, and it got me thinking about this:
People with umbrellas are tyrants.
An umbrella-d man walks slowly down the street, taking up twice the space of a normal person because the umbrella is held so closely to his head. He gives nary a thought to other pedestrians - the fight for space on the sidewalk is passed off entirely to the umbrellas themselves, which, with their octagonal shapes, do not play nicely with one another in the sky above the man’s head. The incompatibility of the umbrella’s shape adds further to the space occupied by each individual, and this man would sooner push through the pack than raise or lower his umbrella to make space for ones occupying different levels in this urban forest. He even still walks beneath the thin awnings of the city buildings despite the protection of his little personal canopy. And many of his friends do the same, all but destroying the chances a non-umbrella-d man may have of keeping a little dry.
The umbrella-d man goes where he pleases. He is sure of himself and of his choice to carry. Not once does he consider the possibility that another might choose to face the world un-umbrella-d on such a morning. Herein lies his tyranny.
His disbelief in the possibility others might choose differently than he is the worst kind of discrimination. It is the unspoken, “You don’t exist” that silences dissent. It is the quiet, unknowing fascism which is hardest to combat because those practicing it aren’t even aware they are. They follow convention blindly, obediently, because they can’t, for the life of them, understand why anyone might make a different choice. They don’t even notice you - little man without an umbrella - and so they won’t move aside. Try to protest, and you are looked at as though you have lost your mind. “Get a freakin’ umbrella, idiot!” they say, edited for language, of course.
And so, those of us who choose to go through the world unprotected from the rain aren’t given the chance to enjoy the unique pleasure of water falling on skin - of the gentle massage from thousands of raindrops tapping on the shoulders, on the head - of the rejuvenating, life-affirming ecstasy of water. We can’t experience the joy of getting a little wet, because these umbrella-d tyrants slow us from our energetically rushed pace down the sidewalk. And we get soaked. Drowned. Flooded. It is not pleasant, not fair.
And there’s nothing we can do about it.
Nothing, that is, except buying an umbrella. But that is called assimilation. That is called giving in.
That is called letting them win.