Saturday, March 12, 2016

Hate wins and we all lose

   This morning, as I was making a cheesecake to take to a dinner party tonight, I was listening to NPR. And the irony is that the story was about cyclists who are harassed by drivers. They interviewed a professional cyclist who said she no longer rides on the road; she had so many close calls with aggressive drivers that she switched to mountain biking and gravel roads for fear of her safety. And they interviewed a man who sells cameras for cyclists to affix to their bikes, so in the event of a crash or a close call, the camera can help reveal what happened.
   Today was one of those days that I wish I was wearing a camera. I got the cheesecake in the oven, laced up my shoes and hitched the leash to Taylor, and we set out for our run. I knew we had to be back within 45 minutes, so we took a familiar route, one we run or walk at least a couple times a week.
   We had gone over 3 miles and were just a few blocks from home, at a busy intersection. We stopped at the corner and I pressed the walk light. Taylor sat patiently on my right, waiting our turn to cross.
   The light turned, and the little man illuminated on the sign. Our path was clear. I gave Taylor a sharp "OK!" and we started sprinting across the street. We were halfway there when the driver in the right lane, facing us, made eye contact with me. Suddenly he gunned it, and cut us off, turning a sharp right, right in front of us. He smirked as he passed and we were forced to an abrupt stop; I clenched the leash to make sure my dog didn't end up under his tires. What. The. Hell.
   Did he make eye contact but never "see" me? I'm certain he did. He was at a complete stop, and deliberately turned in front of us. He didn't have enough time or space to do so safely—there was absolutely no question about this. Perhaps he was just trying to scare us. Perhaps he thought it was funny, messing with a tiny woman and her tiny dog. Perhaps he didn't think we belonged on the street, despite being in a marked crosswalk and having the right of way, and he was trying to "teach us a lesson". Or maybe he was in a rush because he was on his way to save a bunch of orphans from a burning building.
   It is impossible to know what his motivation was. But very easy to guess what the consequences would have been had I not stopped us in time. His big, black SUV was close enough that I could've slapped the palm of my hand on it.
   These days hate and anger seem to be winning. I never thought I'd see the day that a monster of a human being like Donald Trump can be a frontrunner for president, and that he would be supported in his greed, bigotry, and general nastiness--encouraging and glorifying violence. I will admit that today I had that feeling in the pit of my stomach that I wished I had been running with a rock in my hand, so I could have smashed that man's window, and wiped that smirk off his face. The incident happened just a block from our police station, and I'm certain that the law would have been on my side. It was wrong of me to let that anger well up, but I think you can understand why I felt that way.
   I worry about our country and our world in a time like this, when I hear so much about violence against innocent people, and when I see it on the streets of my own neighborhood, with my own two eyes. I did nothing to deserve that man's actions.
   We need to take a hard look at violence and hatred in our society, and stop tolerating it.