They’re playing rollerblade hockey on Pennsylvania Avenue. They’re playing games in this most serious of cities, on the most serious of its streets, under the unblinking gaze of its most serious and secret services. It’s enough to make me want to lace up a pair of skates and join in, at least in spirit.
I did play field hockey in high school and to this day I can remember the crisp thwack of ball hitting stick. Not that I ever actually made that sound as my stick rarely contacted the ball. I was a lousy player with no real instinct or aptitude for the game. I was not strong, nor fast, nor aggressive, nor skilled, but I wanted to be on the field with my two hockey-playing sisters who jointly were all of those things. The team, frankly, was more like me, incapable of mounting any meaningful attempt at competition with the North Jersey powerhouses like Chatham Borough and Chatham Township, or whatever Chatham came our way. I played for all the wrong reasons and yet it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is the pebble in the shoe of green activists. We all want people to do the right thing for the right reasons, so the rightness—and righteousness—is strengthened and magnified. Does it diminish the results of spiffing up the grounds of the Washington Monument and closing Pennsylvania Avenue to traffic in front of the White House that it was motivated by fear? Can we just enjoy the side effects and not dwell on the dark motivation? I’ve been commuting by SmartBike when I can to avoid the Red Line until it settles down and my rides sometimes take me through that space. I look forward to coasting between the bollards and owning the center of the pavement.
What inadvertent delight did we get for our fear? I guess, although we’ll never really know, we got a safer executive residence. We certainly got a safer place for tourists to gawk at the safer executive residence without fear of stepping back off the curb in to traffic. We also got a quieter place to contemplate the White House and its temporary occupants, and its place in the city, in the nation, and the Constitution. There is air to breathe, air in which to speak, air through which one can be heard, although it doesn’t guarantee that one will be heard.
Most delightfully, we got a monumental playground, a place of humor, silliness, exuberance, and sport. Pick-up roller-blade street hockey! An urban space born of fear has been transmogrified into one of play. Here’s to all the wrong reasons!