Weekly Columnist Writer - Cheri Felix
Right off the bat I want you to know something about me. I understand anger. I know what it feels like to be angry. I’ve sat in a courtroom across from the man who took a seven inch blade to my friend and left her to die in a pool of her own blood. Which she promptly did. I’ve had a cross burned on my lawn because the racist people got the wrong house. I want you to know this so you’ll still listen (read) when I say I am shocked lately at people’s reactions to their anger. At people’s quick tempers. At people’s willingness to drop the F bomb and threaten bodily injury. I’ve even read comments about how so and so should be sent to prison so that he can “get it up the butt.” Really is this how we want to be? Is this how we want our kids to be? Is this how we want our world to be?
It’s tough to write an article about self righteousness and anger without sounding angry and self righteous but I’m going to give it my best shot. I know what’s been happening and there is no excuse for someone either intimidating by horn or causing bodily harm. And I know things are sketchy out there and I know cyclists have the same rights (and some of the same responsibilities) and I know tensions are high and I know that in the game of cars versus cyclists that the cars always win. I know all of this and I am still disappointed.
I am disappointed in how it has become okay to say completely hateful things. How it’s become okay to wish someone else harm. It’s so eye for eye these days. It’s not just this issue. It’s drivers versus drivers. We’ve all been the victim of someone’s road rage. It’s drivers and pedestrians and let’s not leave out what happens on the dirt trails where I spend 99% of the time I straddle my bike. Just this fall, when I was out with the high school team, a guy on a bike stopped his ride to come back and yell at not only adult coaches but the high school kids. And he dropped the F word. And then he oh good lord, he Facebook’d the team. Apparently we ruined his day, we ruined his training, and we ruined his evening. Oh my. Really? A few kids don’t yield to you and that’s what happens? You cuss them out, stew about it and send them emails?
Listen, crap happens. And I know it sucks to have someone not yield to you. And even worse, dangerous and terrifying things can happen. It happens on the road and it happens on the dirt. And yes, I know cars are dangerous and scary. But is this what we’ve come to? Have we lost civility? Have we forgotten our manners? Or are we so sure we are right and so justified that it’s okay for us to act this way. When did it become okay to be so verbally violent? There is a right way and a less right way to act when angry and I’m pretty sure threatening to bash someone’s head in, kick in windows, and threatening to post someone’s picture and address all over the internet are the less right ways.
Now I know this is hard to hear. Because when we are angry we feel well…. justified. I’m not saying the anger or fear is not misplaced. I’m just saying I think we all need to sit back for a moment and ask ourselves how do we want to go about this. Do we want to go down the tit for tat road and see where that takes us? Do we want to make this us versus them?
Take a deep breath. Wave, smile and say thank you on the trails. Smile and wave to drivers who pass you with caution and respect. Smile and wave and say thank you like your life depends on it.