It’s a powerful scene in the movie Kingdom of Heaven, in which newly-minted Christian knight Balian (Orlando Bloom) releases into freedom ‘Saracen’ knight Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani…on account of his quality.
Balian had fought and defeated what he thought was Imad’s master, over a horse found on the master’s desert plot. Balian ordered Imad to take him to Jerusalem, but then released him and gifted him the horse.
“Your quality will be known among your enemies, before ever you meet them,” Imad says, before riding off.
He recognized the goodness (or at least capacity for mercy?) in Balian.
It wasn’t until long after the car had passed, and I had escaped unscathed, that I realized I hadn’t panicked. I remember hearing once that traffic incidents often happen near home, probably because we let our guards down.
Maybe that was in the back of my mind as I rode my scooter, on my street, three houses from my home, and I saw the headlights veering toward me. Cars park along one side of my street, so it’s not unusual for a car to drift farther than necessary. I watched closely though, shifting closer to the sidewalk on my side of the street. The headlights kept coming. The speed was noticeable. I moved even farther to the sidewalk. Then the headlights swerved quickly toward me, then away, and the car passed.
I stopped, letting my scooter lean beneath me toward the sidewalk as I looked at the car, waiting for some sign that the driver was aware. It appeared to run a stop sign and hurry away. After continuing home, and taking stock of what had happened, I realized: I didn’t panic.
It may seem like a silly thing to think about, “did I, or didn’t I, panic, and why, or why not?” But I’m very aware of how much control over my reactions I do or don’t have in situations. As a radio host, I’ve been told I’m uncannily cool under pressure, under deadline, under the constraints of a clock. The fact about radio, though, is whether or not I hit a post (speak within my allotted time) or not, is not a life or death matter. Of course I have pride in my work, a deep work ethic, and a desire to do my best for my listeners, employer, and self.
The best way to find out how people think about certain things is to talk to them, and listen. That may seem self-evident, especially when coming from a journalist, but it’s not. One of the casualties of the technology race to social media is the ability to read someone’s presentation of themselves and believe you now know their perspective. You don’t. Skimming a Twitter feed or Facebook page gives you nothing more than a snapshot of a moment in that person’s life. If you want to better understand a person’s perspective, you need to connect in a different way.
I don’t want to move, it ain’t about moving. It’s about change—trying to change it, so I won’t be a drive-by incident.
Cleveland has been mentioned among cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, and New York, in the national soul-searching over police-community relations. Heated debates and efforts toward police reform have been spurred by cases like the police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice who had a pellet gun; the death in police custody of Tanisha Anderson who was suffering from mental illness; and the verdict of Patrolman Michael Brelo for firing the final 15 of 137 shots fired by police at a car after a high-speed chase; among others.
That week began with long walks up and down snowy hills, and it ended with two men wanting to fight. That week began with cold, relentlessly snowy days, and it ended with me reeling in memories of other public transit experiences I’ve had in my life. I touched on some of those feelings in Scooter pt.1, but that week–that week was something else.
Before we discuss that week, I have to provide a kind of counterbalance to what can be seen as pure negativity about Cleveland’s public transportation reality. Many days, the buses run more or less as they should. Many days I arrive at work, and arrive back home relatively on schedule. Many days there is nothing out of the ordinary to report, although there is plenty that is out of the ordinary, like the people.