“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids?…It’s just not right. It’s not right. It’s not, it’s not going to change anything. We’ll, we’ll get our justice….Please, we can get along here. We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to work it out.”
~ Rodney King, May 1, 1992 (the third day of the L.A. riots)
“Be excellent to each other”
~ Bill and Ted
Driving home from work on Friday evening, I was spent. I was physically and emotionally drained and I wanted to get home to my babies.
I was sitting at a light in the middle of my town, a badly designed mini-metropolis whose chaotic center regularly incites road rage. Drivers in my town are rude, frustrated, and typically inept in the best of circumstances. By five pm on a Friday it ain’t pretty.
I heard a wailing siren off in the distance. It took a minute to figure out where it was coming from. When it became apparent that it was coming up directly behind me, I popped the car into gear and pulled over as far as I could.
I watched the cars on either side of me follow suit. One by one they moved aside, parting like the Red Sea for Moses. An ambulance zoomed through the center of the emptied road and then we all began to file back into place.
A small moment perhaps, but it struck me – the beauty of this communal caring. For all of the incredibly divisive rhetoric out there – for all the anger and dissension – we as a people – as a community – care for each other. Even when we’re at our wit’s end.
None of us knew if that ambulance was headed to the government subsidized housing projects by the highway or to the rolling hills of the estates to the West. We didn’t know if the person in need was black or white (or blue or red). We didn’t know if they were young or old, male or female. We didn’t know if they believed in the war in Iraq or if they found it to be morally reprehensible. We didn’t know if they were pro-choice or if they longed to overturn Roe v Wade. We couldn’t have cared less if they believed in evolution or if they were convinced that the world is flat.
It mattered not. What we knew, all we needed to know, was that someone was in trouble. And we got out of the way.
Say what you will about my country, but I will tell you one thing. For all the talk, all the anger, all the abuse of hurtful words, when it comes down to it, we do care about each other. When one of us needs help, we get the hell out of the way.