Friday, February 17, 2012

Michael Magone and Swearing

Do you know what living on the street does to you?

Perhaps your response might depend on what kind of street is under scrutiny, and you would be right. Well then, imagine one. Forge it with old stones and primitive cement. Then make it dirty and poor. No, not poor. More like penniless, impoverished. Color the air above it with dust and smoke. Scatter some thieves, pickpockets and other street urchins on the corners, and you have before you something like this:
Bonus points if you did in fact imagine it black and white
What do you think living in a street like that does to you? Certainly, the first thing is that it will make you aware of your first and cardinal instinct: survival. Live in it long enough, and it will make you hyper-conscious of your need to eat, drink, and sleep. It will slowly force you to abandon unnecessary principles like manners and ethics. It will make you devious, creative. It will make you tough.

If you understand all of that, then congratulations: you pretty much have this one street-kid Michael Magone all figured out. Before Don Bosco brought him to his oratory, that is more or less what Magone had to deal with on a daily basis.
That's this guy, right here
But you're probably like, "Wait, THAT guy's a street-kid?! Oh, come now. He can't be. He looks too happy, too playful, too innocent. Street-kids are filthy, rude, scanty, and above all, vulgar! And... I mean... Just look at him."
Look. At. Him!
Well, I'm sorry to break it to you, but what you see is more like an aftermath. When Michael Magone came into the oratory, he played rough; he swore a lot; he picked fights; he swore a lot; he distrusted people; I think he also swore a lot too.

But here's the kicker: Michael hated all of that. He hated being a street-kid. He hated having no self-control. He hated his gut instinct of throwing hooks and jabs. And he hated swearing. He hated it all so much that he contrived to do what no other street-kid before him dared to do: Michael Magone was planning on getting holy.
We imagine him donning this shirt at his moment of resolution
And do you know how he fixed up to do that? He planned to do the other thing that no other street-kid before him dared to do: he was going to quit swearing.
Do you see the harebrained nonsense Michael was proposing? A born and raised street-kid was going to stop using unpleasant language. That's going against his own nature; it's the logical equivalent of slamming a revolving door. It's impossible! You don't do that jazz unless you're Chuck Norris! But moreover and worse, do you grasp the natural consequences that follow if he actually succeeds? If a teenage street-kid proposes (and thereafter manages) to accomplish the preposterous goal of staying a near-genetic and built-in vulgarity: it means that we have to stop too.
That's it. We'd be done. I quit. Game over. When a street-kid who swears like he breathes metaphorically decides to "stop breathing," we are straight up out of excuses. Unless you don't care that a poor, dirty, uneducated skid like Michael makes a better Christian than you, that is... but in any event, it's probably a good thing that he never actually pulled it off, right?

"Unfortunately, this tongue of mine has not always performed as it should have; at least it is in my power to correct it for the future!" ~Michael Magone (14)

... oh.

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