By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
Apparently, a smile and a handshake can cost you dearly in San Benito.
While wishing all the candidates well at the San Benito CISD John F. Barron Administration Building on Election Day, I encountered familiar behavior from individuals whose shenanigans are often exposed: immaturity.
In the interest of professionalism, I attempted to be cordial with Jesus “Chuy” Aguilera and SBCISD Board President Yliana González while they were awaiting the results of the Election at the administration building on Saturday. Smiling and with my hand extended, I said, “Hi” – this in hopes that, despite our recent disagreements, González and Aguilera would not dismiss the opportunity to be debonair. Well, I was wrong.
González turned away when I attempted to shake her hand while Aguilera and his nephew uttered, “Don’t come here shaking our hands,” or something to that effect. Still, I have to hand it to Aguilera and his nephew… at least they spoke to me. It was González – you know, the Board President, an elected official, the figurehead of an academic institution that’s responsible for the education of our children – who surprised me by spurning a reporter’s attempt to engage in (gasp) professional behavior.
To make matters worse, Aguilera’s nephew – a fellow who I still consider a friend – had to be restrained by his uncle. Otherwise, my “friend” may have attempted to take a swing at me.
It’s a sad state of affairs when a reporter doesn’t feel safe at a public place – a school district administration building, no less. Granted, I appreciated Aguilera stepping in since González appeared unfazed and eerily cold. But what would have occurred if Chuy wasn’t there to stop the situation from escalating? Would I have been attacked? Would my wife, who now fears for my safety after witnessing the ordeal, have spent the night in a hospital to watch over her battered and bruised husband?
I have no qualms admitting that I wouldn’t have stood a chance in a fight. Consider the fact that I’m not a fighter and hold no desire to cause harm to any person unless my life or the lives of those I love are threatened. This is how I was raised, to respect life and never endanger the safety of others. My instincts are therefore rooted in finding peaceful resolutions to matters that would otherwise create havoc.
I suppose this is why my response to the immaturity exhibited by González, Aguilera and his nephew that evening was to ask, “Really?” before wishing them well and parting with a genuine “God bless.”
Since this incident occurred, I’ve grappled over whether I should even pen this column. With so much transpiring now in San Benito, after all, it’s not as though there’s a shortage of topics. The decisive factor that prompted me to address the matter is the same thing that drives me in my career: public awareness.
With that understood, I’d like to offer the following as an attempt at intimacy. Yes, these individuals’ disdain for me is quite evident, but what’s unfortunate is while some of these very people happen to espouse the Word of God when they’re not accosting reporters, they do so while forgetting key components of Christianity: that we are called to love one another; to turn the other cheek; to advocate for truth and the dissemination of said truth; and to “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice … Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Although I’m not attempting to ignite a theological debate, it’s worthy noting that my intentions when offering them my hand derived from forgiveness of their treatment of me and this publication. Sadly, it’s abundantly clear that they’re not ready for such progression of character. Regardless, I’ll be waiting when they are ready… with a smile on my face and a hand extended.