Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Drive-by Shot

For two days now, a vignette witnessed will not leave my cluttered mind.

Driving through town, ahead of me on the sidewalk, I saw a young girl half on her bike—hers, I assume because of the pink streamers dangled from the handlebars. Her brother (I also assume) had both his hands there too, a scene innocent enough of child’s play.

But closer, I could see him shaking the bars, and she no less defending her right (perhaps she was the aggressor, I will never know). Clearly, this was an argument intensifying, a family squabble over a turn to ride.

A woman farther down the street turned round, hearing the ruckus. I passed by, unable to stop. And what business could it be of mine, anyway? Where were the parents on this morning early in the summer vacation?

My rearview mirror showed the shaking even more aggressive. When I looked back again, ever more distant from my ability to intercede, I could tell the little boy was now on the bike, fully in possession, and the little girl no where in sight.

Still it was none of my business, I thought, but remembered even then, the famous quote by Margaret Mead about an entire community raising a child. The thought just will not quit.

This was just about a boy and his sister, but would I pass so innocently if it were this boy and his wife? What if it were this boy with a gun? How can we continue to drive by without helping our children learn a better way of being in this world?

All I needed to do was pull alongside and ask through the open window if they wanted any help. The sheer surprise alone of a stranger’s voice might have interrupted them, changed the violence to partnership. Perhaps, I might have caused embarrassment, or even fear. Perhaps I might have seemed to them, now united, to be the evil stranger offering candy to lure them in.

But something could have been done.

So many times in our lives, we choose to look away, to not be bothered, to stay too busy to help out. Yet over and over, we are moved with wonder and amazement by the tiny random acts of a tired Rosa Parks or a committed Ghandi, moments that change the world.

On our way home, even with our hands loaded with groceries, we can do this!

Peace! Out!

Please share with your friends


TheElementary said...

I've got to catch up on some of your posts from recent days. I want to say a little something on this, though.
It's always hard to know what to do at the moment something is happening. Hindsight is a painful thing, and we look back and think of all we could have done. It's true, I like what you quoted- that we're all responsible for each other- but it's difficult at times to recognise a particular moment of potential good/bad until the scene has passed. We muse on it later, we think what we ought to have done.
The fact that you're still thinking about them and about what happened is the best we can do for each other given the circumstances. And I'll bear it in mind the next time I'm out and about and see something I'm unsure of.
This is such a thoughtful piece.

Kip de Moll said...

It's true, we couldn't possibly stop to rectify every injustice we see. I'd never get where I needed to be. But we can hold this thought in our hearts and practice it on those around us: the soccer players I coach, the kids who egged our house, the young neighbors who drink and smoke on the back porch, keeping the rest of us awake.