The Rainbow Fish

How humble am I? How much do I give? How can I help others while all the while realizing the potential of my gifts? How should I honor my position of privilege, knowing that by luck, by fate, by birth I have more shining scales than others? Standing inside, in front of, behind the abandoned Detroit city, ruins left behind for tourists like me tell the story of how race riots imploded a city left behind to rot by the whites, left behind to rot by the middle class and bourgeoisie, white flight to a suburb or white picket fence dream – away from the black faces that are so angry another mob another white cop beatin’ up young black men, crackin down, interrogation.

Kozol talks, talks, talks about guilt and revolution from behind a pulpit, another ode to Pineapple but I can’t help wonder how much of his book tour money he will invest into the 60 Black and Latino schools he visited, investigated and explored for this book. I can’t help wonder why he speaks of guilt and wonder how he can share coffee with his wealthy friends, knowing what he knows and if that makes him any less conscientious than me?

The sparkling fish in The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister, is beautiful and perfect and complete – unique, a gift, a reminder of God, the miraculous, the extraordinary the absolute the one of a kind, the dream. She has much to offer, just in her presence, it is this piece of art that replenishes the soul in the mist of mediocrity. This is what we all aspire to be? Yet she is told that she must give away her scales, one by one, minimize her outward beauty in order to maximize her inner beauty – which in the end is defined by her friendships and company. Does giving away each of her scales mean that she is no longer special, unique and brilliant in the sea of souls? Does giving parts of yourself, connecting with others and bridging the souls across race, class and difference mean that you are dismantling yourself? Are we asked not to shine? Are we asked to join the ordinary in order to find company? Do we have to be all the same in order to find solidarity? Why can’t we pride in someone else’s sparkle, love them for their greatness, uniqueness and beauty? Why do we have to diminish ourselves in order to find acceptance? Shouldn’t it be that every time the Rainbow Fish gives away a scale, a new one appears in its place?

A teacher I know, shines in what she does, the strength and conviction and confidence of her stance. Respect flows with learning and teaching is passion and there is in the end, fear and insecurity. Wanting so badly to be recognized for this miracle that happens every day, this pride in knowing and breathing and feeling that she is doing exactly the right thing – she becomes fearful and lonely. Others do not see her. She becomes arrogant and aloof. Is this in response to her rejection or is arrogance the root? Why can’t she recognize herself in one of them and vice versa? Is she alone in her excellence? I see her in me and I see reflections that have come and gone and I ask myself again, remind myself again: Am I humble enough? Do I give enough? Do I share my gifts? Do I honor my position of privilege?