Monday, June 28, 2010

The Frailty of Reason

reason (noun) - a rational motive for a belief or action

An anecdote.  Last week a person aged a hard 35 years to possibly 55 years old, who I did not recognize, rode their bike up the opposite sidewalk and came to a stop in front of my neighbor's house.  The aforementioned party disembarked, leaving the bike on the grass immediately adjacent to the sidewalk and proceeded toward the front door.  Knowing the people who reside in the house, and the relativity of their friends (ages, clothing styles, hours of interaction, etc.), this situation already had four red flags and he hadn't quite reached the porch yet.  As soon as this stranger mounted the steps he reached for the handle and turned it.  At this point I am 100% confident that if the door opens, ill-intent will be brought upon my neighbors.  They were home and likely did not see the situation unfolding.  Note:  I had no access to 911 at the time.

Personal Reason.  Given the above statements and the degree of potential danger, I felt and continue to feel that in an unencumbered situation I should have applied overwhelming force not only to stem this encounter, but also to prevent him from possibly carrying out a similar action against someone else.

Real Reason.  The real reason that I waited for him to be rebuffed by the locked door and ride off is because I understand the fiscal, legal, and opportunity cost ramifications that such an encounter potentially includes.

Were I to have known the sheriff and judge in this town, personal reason would probably have been enough to allay the risks associated with how the interpretation of legal words, crafted by individuals years ago and whom likely never contemplated such a situation, could affect my future.

At this point I am struggling to communicate the payoff in this story, and that goes to the heart of the matter of the American effort to legislate right and wrong using finite language.  It also indicates the weakness in our systems for relationships to supersede intent, and therefore, the metamorphosis of reason into irrationality.

Instead of scrapping this post fragment with no punchline, I will leave it up and hopefully revisit the topic later with better clarity ... perhaps after a martini or three this evening.