Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Wife The Vigilante (Do NOT Try This At Home)

I wanted to share with you a story about my crazy, albeit very althletic, wife and business manager, Karen. Please note that this email is subtitled "Do NOT Try This At Home," as I do not recommend this tactic to any of my readers.

A couple of weeks ago, Karen was having coffee with a friend of hers at a local Starbuck's. The shop was located in a decent neighborhood, and it was mid-afternoon. She sat chatting with her friend as they drank their lattes, relaxed and enjoying the Phoenix spring weather. She was on her way out to the barn to ride her horse, so she was dressed in her riding pants and boots. Her purse was looped over the back of her chair.

As they finished their drinks, a young man came up behind Karen, said something to the effect of "I'm sorry" and then proceeded to grab her purse off the back of her chair and then ran off across the busy street. Most people in this situation would have yelled something after the guy and then called the police to handle the matter. Not Karen. She took off after the perpetrator, all the while screaming at the top of her lungs: "He's got my purse! He's got my purse!" Her intention was to call a great deal of attention to what was happening, and she succeeded.

She followed the thief across six lanes of busy traffic. Miraculously, neither one of them was hit by a car. He ran into an apartment complex with Karen trailing him slightly. They ran all the way to the back of the complex when Karen yelled out to the mail carrier who was delivering letters to the complex. "Get him! He's got my purse!" The mail man tossed his bag over his shoulder and proceeded to tackle the purse snatcher, who by this time had already dropped Karen's bag out of fear and surprise. Two other passers-by jumped on top of the guy and they held him down until the police arrived.

Apparently, all the yelling and screaming had been effective, because there had been about 9 calls to 911 from onlookers and drivers who had seen the pair running across the street. When the police arrived on the scene, they seemed surprised to have actually apprehended the criminal. And they looked at Karen with a sense of wonder and admiration.

I heard the story after the fact, and would not have believed it if it had been anyone else telling it to me. I felt somewhat sorry for the young pickpocket, as he had obviously messed with the WRONG woman. Since then, Karen has heard many lectures on how she should not have done what she did... but at the end of the day and since I know she's okay, I am secretly proud that my wife is such a bad-ass. And the streets are just a little bit safer now...

In song,
-Todd Herzog

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What does it mean to be free?

I had an interesting conversation today with some students at a local Jewish high school about the meaning of freedom. We discussed what freedom looks like on an individual basis as well as what it looks like in the broader context of society. Some students felt that freedom was simply the ability to do whatever you wanted to do without fear of repercussion. Others felt freedom could be defined on many different levels and that it meant different things to different people. Most felt that true freedom was more than simply hedonism.

"Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose."

C. Wright Mills

We raised the question of whether there was a difference between the "experience of freedom" and the freedom to act and express yourself in whatever way you chose. After all, can't freedom be experienced within the walls of a jail cell or in an open field? At the end of our discussion, we agreed upon one thing: that true freedom involves transcending the borders that confine you - whether they are physical, emotional, psychological or political. Or to put it another way:

"Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom."

Marilyn Ferguson

The discussion is still a work in progress, but it has inspired me to look into my own life and the way that I experience freedom. I wish you courage in probing into your limitations and finding a way to break through whatever restrictions are holding you back from a greater sense of freedom.

In song,
-Todd Herzog