Wednesday, September 03, 2008

human effort, human dignity

yesterday i went to the commonwealth club to moderate a debate on the war between russia and georgia over south ossetia. i arrived a few minutes early and there were still people sitting in our room, so i wandered into a discussion on the latest proposition to ban gay marriage in california. i sat right next to the door, expecting to slip out when my room was free.

as i sat there an obviously very sick man, unclear if he was old or young, hobbled with his cane to the door. i opened the door for him and stood out of his way. he beckoned to me and i followed him outside. he then asked if i would write his question for the speakers (questions were only taken in written format for this event). i said yes, and he began to speak most eloquently, but stilted, with obvious physical exertion, on basic human rights, the decay of roman and greek societies correlating with increased sexual freedoms, human dignity ... he let it all loose. 

i couldn't keep up with him, and told him as much. we managed to piece together one question on human dignity that wasn't too long and really probed the psychology of a voter who would decide to vote for the proposition banning gay marriage. i told him that i had to run this up to the podium before they stopped taking questions. the unnamed man shuffled slowly back to his seat, and i submitted the question.

then, i waited. we waited. i wanted, i so badly wanted, our question to be read. the sick man had his head flopped over in his hands at his seat. he looked exhausted. he had put in a lot of energy coming to me and working out a question. the moderator continued lobbing questions at the panel. one, then another, then another. the moderator finally said that she only had time to read two more questions.

the first wasn't ours.

i so hoped that the second would be. i waited. i crossed my fingers.


it wasn't our question. i was late for my event and couldn't bear to see the sick man. i stood up and left.


Kevin Canini said...


neha said...

oh omar. you know, you listened to him. that counts for something!