Saturday, October 16, 2010

T.I. Joe

In my more cynical periods, I sometimes feel that we can only be as great, or as good, as the occasion permits, and for us living in these easy times, there are few opportunities for anyone to be more than mediocre.  Of course, the truly great ones are those who do not wait for life to happen, but make their own opportunities.  So who are these "great ones"?  Well, I could name a few in the realm of sports or the entertainment industry, but in "real life"--things that matter--I don't really know.

For most people, it's back to being as good as the occasion.  So it was for rapper T.I. this past Wednesday, when he helped talk a suicidal man off a ledge.

T.I. was driving to a video shoot when he heard the news, over the radio, that a man was threatening to jump off the 22-story building that housed the radio station.  Though "breaking news" every time, such incidents are not altogether uncommon and do not typically attract more than local attention.  With the police already on hand, T.I. could have done nothing and still remained blameless, a mere civilian.  Like most civilians, he could simply have shrugged and gone on with his day, or he could have become just another spectator anticipating either a heartening resolution or a thrilling disaster.

But something in him told him that he was the right man at the right time and the right place.  He stopped what he was doing, went to the scene, and did what he could to help, recording a video message that police used to talk the man off the ledge.

It wasn't something that he had to do, but it was maybe something that only he could have done.  Or maybe the suicidal man would never have gone through with it anyway.  But the point is that T.I. did not just wait and watch, leaving the outcome up to chance.  He heard the call for him from heroism, and he accepted the charges.

I'm not familiar with the rap music of T.I.  I don't imagine I would like it.  I'm not calling him any kind of role model.  Two days after the incident, he was sentenced to eleven months in prison for having violated his probation, after having been released only eight months earlier following a year behind bars on federal weapons charges.  But in his moment of recognition and subsequent action, T.I. was as good as any man.  He did what nobody else should have expected of him, but which maybe we should all expect of ourselves.  We need not all commit our lives to saving the world, but when occasion summons us, however seldom the call may come, will we hear it and be ready to answer, as T.I. did, with our best selves?

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