A fine line to walk 小心行事


Reader question:

Please explain “fine line to walk” in this sentence: Finding a balance between protecting our children and letting them find their own way is a fine line to walk.

My comments:

“Fine line to walk” here means it’s a delicate situation facing parents. How much should they protect their children by preventing them from, say, taking part in certain activities? How much, on the other hand, should they allow their young ones to do certain things on their own?

To be specific, let’s take the example of taking children to school?

Should they, for example, always drive their charge to school, or should they let their children go to school by taking a bus, alone?

If you decide to drive your kids to school, should you do it every day of the week?

And if you think children are old enough to go to school by themselves, should they do so each and every day, come rain or shine?

See, it’s complicated.

Anyways, “fine line” means it’s a thin line, “fine” as in fine dust, finer details.

To walk a fine line, therefore, is to walk down a path that is extremely narrow. One may easily go off the rail, so to speak. Trains, for example, literally go off rail sometimes, usually in an accident.

Gymnasts doing somersaults on the high beam, which is only 10 centimeters in width, are walking on a thin line, too, in the literally sense.

The tightrope walker in the circus, no doubt, is really walking a fine line in the exact literal sense every time they hop onto the rope up in the air.

Well, you get the idea now.

So, figuratively speaking, if parents have to walk a fine line between protecting their children and letting them finding their own, finding their own footing, that is, they have to be careful.

They have to take care because they can easily make mistakes on either side of the balance. They may be over protective and err on the side of caution or they can be over confident and err on the side of being risky and reckless.

In other words, to use another circus analogy, it really is a balancing act, and a difficult one at that. The wiggle room, or the room for maneuver is small.

So, do take extra care, as the rope walker up in the air obviously does – every single time.

Alright, let’s further examine the expression “a fine line to walk” in real media examples:

1. It’s no secret that the gender wage gap impacts women of color more acutely – black women make 63 cents to the white man’s dollar and a Hispanic woman stands to lose over $1 million over her 40-year-career compared to her white, non-Hispanic male counterpart.

Statistics like these got Jacqueline Twillie to quit her corporate job to spend “sometimes upwards of three hours a day studying negotiation techniques.” Now, as a negotiation and equal pay consultant, she focuses on helping millennial women ask for more. But Twillie, 31, says she learned the hard way how women can unintentionally create a wage gap by not negotiating their first salary.

While negotiating her first professional job offer six years ago, Twillie says, she went in knowing the amount she wanted and ready to negotiate. “However, when it came down to accepting the offer, I blew it.” During salary negotiations, she recalls feeling so grateful for the job, she blurted out, “Yes, I’ll take it!” to the hiring manager, although the offer was considerably below what she had calculated. “Just like that, I had given up much of my negotiating power,” she adds. “Several months later I learned that a male colleague in the same position as me was earning a higher salary.”

But she also learned two valuable lessons from the experience – to find out what her professional skills were worth and “to get over the nerves and jitters to ask for the salary.”

Twillie tells me women of color face unique challenges when negotiating, vis-a-vis their white female counterparts. “Cultural expressions of women of color in regards tone inflection can sometimes be perceived as aggressiveness,” she says. “To combat this stereotype, woman of color have to be aware of themselves but it’s just as important to be aware of the person they are negotiating with,” she says. “Communicate in a manner that exudes confidence, not arrogance or disrespect – it is a fine line to walk because coming off as weak can cost you the negotiation.”

- 4 Strategies For Women Of Color To Negotiate A Higher Salary, Forbes.com, October 26, 2016.

2. The lines can sometimes blur when trying to make a distinction between good cop versus bad cop.

We reported earlier this week in the Marion Republican the case of David Sloan, a resident of Johnston City, arguing to the mayor and city council last week that his rights as a citizen had been grossly abused by the police.

In a nutshell, Sloan said he was walking outside his home in the cold weather and was wearing a fleece hoodie pulled over his nose to help protect himself from the elements. He was spotted by police officers and questioned.

What exactly transpired between officers and Mr. Sloan is left to our imagination. Sloan, 58, said he was verbally abused by the officers and eventually arrested. Police Chief Will Stark said there had been a recent home burglary in the neighborhood and Sloan was wearing clothing that covered most of his face, which made him a suspicious character. Stark added that Sloan was not cooperative and later made a threatening comment to the arresting officer.

Our reporter, Chanda Green, reported that Sloan and some other residents in the community feel the police are overstepping their bounds.

Conversely, other residents are comforted, she reported, in knowing the police are proactive in preventing crime from occurring in their community.

The mayor -- Jim Mitchell -- is a staunch supporter of his officers and said the entire Sloan arrest incident was overblown.

“The only thing I can say is that I have complete confidence in our police department and in our chief,” Mitchell said.

The state’s attorney for Williamson County -- Brandon Zanotti, himself a JC resident -- is withholding judgment ... for now.

Zanotti did say that he intends to meet with both Sloan and Stark in the days ahead. He also confirmed that JC officers had written more traffic tickets last year than Marion, a city four times the size of Johnston City.

That information does raise an eyebrow does it not? Are these all legitimate offenses or are officers simply looking for any possible reason to write a ticket to build up the city's general fund?

Truth is, we don’t really know what to believe at this point.

“In today’s climate, police aren’t very well respected,” Stark said. “We are a very proactive department, and because of that, we have reduced the amount of illegal drugs and the number of burglaries in Johnston City.”

The job of a police officer is a difficult one, and at times, a dangerous one.

That said, it’s important that officers don't make the citizens they are sworn to protect victims of overzealous behavior. It’s a fine line to walk.

It is our hope that relations will soon normalize in the community and there will be no further need for citizens to speak out against their protectors at a city council meeting. We will be watching -- and hoping.

- John Homan: A fine line between good police work and harassment, DailyRepublicanNews.com, January 19, 2018.

3. The BIG3 basketball league knows what it wants to be. As rapper and BIG3 founder Ice Cube said during a weekly conference call with reporters, the league is meant to complement the NBA, filling the time during a summer with no men’s basketball.

But in talking to players and coaches, that identity is not as obvious as the league thinks it should be in its third season.

The BIG3 is made up of former NBA players who are no longer in the league “for whatever reason,” explained Cube, who was quick to note that doesn’t mean the quality of basketball is worse than the NBA’s. The league targets players the NBA thinks are done and whose careers might otherwise be over. The league age minimum is 27, with Perry Jones III, a former Baylor standout and current member of the Enemies, just over that mark as the youngest player in the league.

While player opinions differ on whether the league should be used as an avenue for players to return to the NBA or as a post-NBA career or even both, Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler — who was named the league’s commissioner in March 2018 — emphasized that these are just athletes continuing to play at a high level. He acknowledged different players use the league for different reasons.

“This is not just old guys playing basketball,” Drexler said. “These are great athletes playing a game suited particularly to their skills.”

As that mix of players returned to Brooklyn, the city in which the league played its first games three years ago, it did so with a game and atmosphere that was still in development.

What may seem like any other basketball game featuring otherwise-retired NBA players and former college stars performing in front of 13,000 people is actually a form of basketball most fans aren’t used to watching. For starters, BIG3 basketball is only played on a half court. If the defensive team gets a rebound, it must go back behind the three-point line, similar to your typical pickup game rules. Each game is played to 50 points, with a win-by-two rule — again, just like a pickup game.

But that’s where the similarities to open gym come to an end. The longer you watch, the more differences you find. Players are allowed to knock down four-pointers if they are standing on three different spots on the court, each 30 feet from the hoop. When a player is fouled, he gets one free throw, worth the number of points that was attempted. Also, there are referees calling fouls like an organized 5-on-5 game.

At times, the BIG3’s brand of basketball appears more like street ball than professional ball. At times, it feels the opposite. That leads to an adjustment period for fans and players alike, even though the league is halfway through its third season.

“We have to learn how to play this style of basketball,” said Bivouac’s C.J. Leslie, a former North Carolina State star and son of WNBA legend Lisa Leslie. “We’ve got guys who are decades in the pros and played in the finals and tough games, but that doesn’t necessarily follow up with this style of the BIG3.“

Bivouac’s coach, two-time NBA All-Star Reggie Theus, said while people think there isn’t a learning curve for new BIG3 players since it’s still basketball, they couldn’t be more wrong. Bivouac — which is one of four expansion teams this season — lost two games because, in his words, they didn’t yet understand “how to win.”

“Coach lets us know, ‘Hey, do this even though that’s not technically the NBA style,’” Leslie admitted.

The league’s unique rules lead to a unique style of play. BIG3 basketball is more physical than the NBA, so referees have to walk a fine line with what they let slide and what calls they make. The “no blood, no foul” mantra of street-ball sometimes reveals itself in BIG3 games, but sometimes they have to blow the whistle.

- What kind of basketball does the BIG3 want to be? SBNation.com, July 19, 2019.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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