So, I’m at a friends house last night and someone from outside of our social circle has dropped by. She’s from a different social class and hangs out with different people. During conversation she uses the word ‘nigger’ to describe the blackness of a pair of shoes and a pair of lace underwear. We’re not sure if it was meant to be a joke or not, but regardless, some of my friends were offended.
So, after she leaves everyone starts arguing about it. One guy in particular is strongly opposed to the use of this word. After a couple of hours the argument has settled down and I address this person:
“I don’t know if you understand from riding your scooter, but when I ride my bike I often get really angry at motorists. People drive too close and cut me off and don’t give way when they should. I ride with slick tires and when it’s wet and someone cuts me off there is little that I can do except ride with total caution. Often I can’t even yell because I’m out of breath.. and they are none the wiser. When they cut me off all I can do is swear quietly to myself.
The other morning I drove up here to Crafers on my way to church. At the top of the hill I stopped to give way at the roundabout; there was a van there and I gave way and then took off again. I made my turn and parked immediately. As I was turning off the engine I noticed a cyclist coming off of the roundabout and instantly I came to an understanding of what had just gone on.
As I got out of my car he pulled over. I asked, ‘I just cut you off then, didn’t I?’
‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘you didn’t even see me.’
‘I am so sorry mate…’ I noticed that he was riding with similar slicks to the ones I use.
Even now I can’t describe how bad I feel about the situation. Worse still, he just rode off. I know that in that situation I wouldn’t have been as nice to the motorist. I would’ve given them the third degree. I would’ve made sure they understood their responsibilities, the law, and how their indifference to such matters endangered my life as I try my best to peacefully and humbly commute.
But he just rode away.
So remember, before you judge someone else, before you get angry at another’s behaviour, remember that a time may come where you’re guilty of similar behaviour in someone else’s eyes. You may not be racist like that, but there are many ways that people can be deeply offended. Someone else may find you racist, or homophobic, or you might offend their religious beliefs or cultural practices,… There is such a vast array of things that people sincerely value, providing us with a wealth of opportunities via which we can offend others. Let’s just hope that when we offend them they will show us more love and respect than I’ve been showing other motorists.”
I’m unsure if Godwin’s law applies… no one mentioned it.