One night, actually it was Valentine’s Day, I heard a couple arguing outside my window. I lived in a club district, so that night though it was a week night, was pretty active. I had been watching the couples, mostly laughing at the obvious newbies and the bored but diligent oldheads. I had turned my attention to some particularly interesting part of my phone conversation when I heard the two.
Oh no, not on Valentine’s Day! My phone partner and I both laughed. I watched them argue for a while—not long really—when he snatched her up. Her flimsy little cardigan was all askew on her shoulders and she kind of slid from the melee in her cutesy kitten heels on the brick sidewalk. He walked away as she recovered from the imbalance fussing all the while. He turned around to go back to her, headlocked her, and proceeded to drag her between two cars in a parking lot.
What had been a tragic-comedy was about to turn all tragedy in a second. I called 911 to report the beating that was taking place. She emerged from between the cars and started chasing behind him as he tried to leave the scene. Before the police arrived, he had gone on to take her purse and remove cash and a cell phone throwing the emptied bag at her body. She finally crumpled on the sidewalk in tears but was adjusting herself when the police got there. He was gone.
I heard Drake’s new cut “Say Something” recently and (though I have to wonder what the world is coming to when Drake triggers me to intelligent thought) was reminded of this incident. The song has nothing to with domestic violence, but the hook is something I’ve certainly thought a million times in my head: I’m gonna need you to say something.
I admit I can shut up and shut down without much effort and in the blink of an eye. I’ll call it my turtle shell defense. But I have to be clear when, as do we all, crawling into a shell is not an option. Sometimes, silence doesn’t only give consent but it perpetuates the worst stuff you can imagine.
I don’t advocate policing the world but damn if you have a right to sit around and watch it head to hell in a handbasket. In fact, if you’re part of the world, expect to head to hell right along with it. Therein lies your responsibility to it. When you get down to it, it’s also a responsibility to yourself.
Since today is being heralded as a National Day of Service I figured this would be my lazy-arsed version of service: a PSA: Say Something.