Another story from BTF (before the fires) – which seems so long ago, and yet should not be forgotten: a hit and run of four cyclists, that looked to be intentional. Fortunately a motorcyclist had video rolling, the contents of which led to the arrest of a suspect. The motorcyclist was also able to quickly mobilize first responders from a nearby fire station.
This particular stretch of road is popular with cyclists, in fact the four who were hit were on a charity benefit ride. I often ride this road myself, so, although I was miles away at the time, it was disconcerting to hear the news. Making it even closer to home, it turned out the suspect also works at MMWD. We are in different work groups, and I’d never spoken with him, but had seen him in passing, in fact may have even said, “hello.” I had parked in the same parking lot as that pickup truck. (shiver)
Which, even folks who do horrible things – well, many of them anyway – work somewhere, so why not where I work, right? (And on the other hand there are co-workers like RJ, who went to see if his grandpa was OK/evacuated during the fires, found out his grandpa had been taken, but a bunch of other folks hadn’t, and proceeded to help at least 70 people get out.) Anyway, back to the hit and run. Why is that so weird that the suspect would work at the same place I do? I guess it’s that HOW THE WORLD WORKS thing again. In my world, I don’t hit people with my vehicle. Since that’s normal and right to me, I just figure it’s the same for everyone, especially those I cross paths with or might work at the same company.
So there’s that. And then there’s the response of my cycling friends. Yes, it is both upsetting and infuriating – four people were needlessly, senselessly hurt, one of them very seriously. But the pitchforks and torches were out – crucify him, hang him high… and yes, part of me feels that same way. But. In no way am I saying that what he did is OK or there is anything that would justify his behavior, BUT at some level he is still a human being. He went to high school with my bosses’ kids, for crissakes, and, at least at that time, seemed like a nice enough kid. Maybe that was an illusion, who knows. Or maybe something or things have gone horribly wrong since then that sent him off the rails to where hurting others felt like something that would dull his pain. I don’t know. But in some ways, at least at some point in his life he was not THAT different from any of us. Or maybe I’m delusional or naive, who knows. But to keep some sense of how the world should be, I have to believe that.
I know, none of US would hit people with our car. Again, I am not making any excuses for him, not giving some exception because he happens to work at the same place I do – he needs to be held fully accountable for his actions, and I hope he is able to sort out whatever has sent him off in the deep end. I know some will say he’s voted himself off the island by his actions, but I hope that we are able to hold some space for his humanity – as deeply flawed as it currently seems to be – for if we cannot, we lose some of our own.