Their Fortitude Rose

For many, the conception arose that the stultifying heat, the torpid staleness of the air, and the mounting feeling of physical constriction were kinds of hardship in themselves. They felt tested, and so because of their dispositions, their belief in the virtuousness of tolerance, their fortitude rose to the test, and they endured it. A kind of exhilaration swelled in their hearts. They felt noble. They imagined themselves to be an elite delegation, with specialized capabilities, like green berets or navy SEALS. A foreboding aura of historical significance shot through the occasion, and they saw the scene of their many heads and shoulders, in their diverse costumes, pressed into the Winslow town home, as one sees a black and white photograph of Selma, AL, in a textbook. Or the ’68 Democratic convention. Or any other number of catalyzing moments intoned in sepia. They had no placards, but they had their indomitable conviction. They were not recognized in the moment, but they would be seen.

At the same time, a perverse kind of psychological phenomenon began to happen in them. The pique generated by oxygen deprivation and body temperature increases, the profound feeling of accruing importance and mounting tension, led each to believe that some personal transformation was imminent. When one labors for hours hiking a mountain, they do so because the reward of the peak awaits. There is no precedent for a grueling ascent without conquest; thus, given the event they were at, what climax, what summit could await them, but the reception of the award itself? Each person began to believe in the certainty that they were the destined recipient of the 2018 FAIR award. A thrilling prospect. Could it be? There was baselessness to this fact, however; but they did not want to relinquish the tantalizing anticipation of reward, and so, without realizing it, they began to speak in ways that rationalized the inevitability of their own success. Which largely meant describing reasons that others would not, could not, ascend.

“I kind of think the fracking thing has passed as an issue, don’t you?”

“The mid-east crisis has gone on so long. The six-day war, ’67. That’s fifty years ago now! And it’s awful. But, let’s be honest, to award either side is to take sides. Plus Netanyahu is under investigation now for fraud…”

“This BDSM stuff—sorry, no way. Perv out on your own time. Your own dime, for that matter.”

“They’re private institutions, that’s the thing. If they want to admit only whites, they can. Show me the law that says 8% or whatever has to be Asians. Harvard probably gets sick of reading a million applications from Asians.”

“We’re a news-saturated culture. Headlines are reality. The facts of law. The Supreme Court. The stuff of storybooks is old news. That’s nice that he makes a living at it, but what he does is not that relevant.”

“My own feeling is that we’re kind settled on the Latino immigrant issue. Obviously, it’s inhumane to shoot ‘em down at the border. It’s inhumane to separate the children and lock them up. The port of call laws are archaic. You know what I mean? God bless him, God bless them all, but I don’t see like, Mr. Depace, for example, getting the award. So you have diabetes as well? Yeah, well, you can avoid that with a proper diet.”

“He is charismatic, I’ll give him that. But I read some of his articles online the other day. You shouldn’t buy Happy Meals when the figurine toy is a superhero, because that’s creating false expectations on males. That’s real sensitive and all, but can you imagine this story in Reuters? FAIR award winner is a hyper-liberal. It looks bad. I just looks bad.”

Also published on Medium.