It’s pretty rare that something happens in the news that moves me. Usually, I’d write a long list of things from the news that don’t move me, and it would all be controversial stuff that I’d say doesn’t move me - like bombings, paedophiles, natural disasters, rapes, murders, cot-death – and I say it didn’t move me just to seem outrageous and cynical. Well I’m not going to do that this time, because this time I’m being sincere. All that stuff might be moving and it might not be, but it is predictable. But here’s one thing that isn’t and it does move me.
Some time over the last week, I’m not sure when, a seventeen year old jumped off of the Golden Gate Bridge for a dare. He only got a couple of bruises. What are we dealing with here? A pro. What we’re dealing with here is a pro. A lot of people jump off of that bridge – approximately 1500 since 1937 – and 98% of them die when they do it. Sure, this guy’s a pro because he takes on those odds and comes out in the winning 2%, but the main reason the guy’s a pro is because, like I said, he did it for a dare. Here's a some of the media coverage: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/california-teen-survives-school-trip-dare-jump-from-golden-gate-bridge/story-e6frf7lf-1226020123819
A lot of people come out of puberty thinking that a dare doesn’t mean anything, that there’s nothing wrong with not doing a dare when you’re dared to do. But if you ignore a dare; if you pretend that you are above a dare, what are you proving? You’re proving that you have no sense of honour, that you have no principles, that you’re afraid you’ll be thought immature. All I can say to people like that is that if they fell off the Golden Gate Bridge, they would be in the 98%. This guy wasn’t because he stood up for something; he proved himself a Man and was rewarded for it. And I’ll bet he didn’t endure the shame of being double-dared to do it either.
This kid’s name doesn’t seem to have been disclosed, but if it is revealed I will remember it in case he runs for president or leads a revolution. This is the kind of guy who should be in charge of things. Maybe you could say that doing a dare is just giving in to peer pressure, and that that kind of person is just a mindless drone, but if you say that then you don’t understand the nature of the dare. A dare is a challenge. There aren’t any consequences to refusing the challenge because if the dare is set by people who respect the dare, a refusal ends the matter as unequivocally as an execution. That’s because a dare is not a test to see whether or not you’re a pussy, but to see whether or not you’re a Man. The only consequences of not proving you are a Man is knowing you are not a Man. The only kind of person I trust to lead me is someone who has proved to himself that he’s a Man. Someone who can honestly say, “Yes. Every dare I ever got dared, I did.” A person’s politics or ideology is of no interest to me if they’re living in fear that their secret will be exposed – the secret that they are not a Man. I don’t know about you, but people like that don’t fool me. I spot them right away. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with not being a Man – for some people, it’s just not their cup of tea – but to try to convince people you are one when you know you’re not…well, that’s as low as you get.
Sometimes though, you will be dared to do something that is beyond your abilities. When we were kids, my brother dared me to look at all the boobies in the world. He might not remember it, but I do, and I’m trying, bro - but that’s a tough dare. I knew it was a tough one at the time, and now I know I’ll never do that dare - and let me tell you, there is no shame greater than the shame of a dare unfulfilled – but I am grateful to my brother for daring me to do that dare, because even though I will carry the shame of the dare not done to my grave, that dare defined me because it made me respect the dare and all the dare stands for. And if I didn’t respect that I may as well have taken that dare to the grave the minute my brother dared it.
So going back to the kid who jumped off that bridge, what is so special about him? The dare he got dared wasn’t a particularly hard dare - pretty much anyone in the world could jump off the Golden Gate Bridge – but that isn’t the point. It doesn’t matter how dangerous, how ridiculous, how pointless the dare; all that matters is that you do that dare. This kid is special, at least to me, because he went ahead and did that dare in an age where people no longer respect the honour of the playground. We believed in it when we were kids - just like we believed in right and wrong when we were kids - so why can’t we believe in it still?