Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Me and My Shadow?

I just read a local news story of a young man "with an extensive criminal history" being detained by the California Highway Patrol for speeding and drunken driving and suddenly bolting from the officers, jumping over a concrete divide along the freeway, and being struck and killed by an SUV. And you know the first thought that came to my mind?


I'm not proud of thinking this way. But how should I feel about what happened to this man or about my first reaction to learning of it?

I watch "Cops" and "World's Wildest Police Videos" from time to time, and both programs abound with drunken or drug-crazed drivers fleeing police and being chased along crowded freeways and busy city steets imperiling themselves, the police who chase them, and innocent citizens. I often want to see these people caught, dragged out of their cars, and Rodney Kinged to within an inch of their lives, or see them shot if they run after the officer tells them to "Freeze!"

Why do I feel these things? Is it hatred for my own "shadow"? If so, what exactly is this shadow of mine?

When I was younger, oh so much younger than today, I once ran from the police after being told to "Stay where you are!" A friend of mine and I were in Riverside, California at the state junior bowling tournament, had been doing some underage drinking that night in our motel room, and wandered outside for a moment only to be seen by a cop down the hall who shouted at us and we reflexively took off running. In what seemed like a millisecond, the cop was right there, his gun pointing at us, shouting, "Freeze!" We froze.

It turned out that this cop was investigating reports of break-ins to that motel complex by a couple of guys who looked a lot like us, and he happened to see us right after we stepped outside our room. We ran because we didn't want to get in trouble for drinking, and we didn't take the time to consider how much more trouble or worse we could get in for running from a police officer. We were let go with a stern reprimand. It could have been worse. Much worse. I found out later that the Riverside police were notorious for their "Shoot first, ask questions later" policy. What if I had been more addled by alcohol or something stronger than I was and had continued to run after being told to "Freeze!"?

I wouldn't be here now blogging about the anger if not hatred part of me feels toward people who defy and flee the police.


Anonymous said...

I am glad that your heart has stopped racing. That is a very uncomfortable feeling, no wonder you feel socially awkward; it is hard to have a normal converstaion with someone when your heart is beating at 150 bpm.

What's up with the langauge in your post? I'm no prude, and words don't really offend me, but are you trying somehow to mimick Wilber? Just a thought...

Nagarjuna said...

My heart wasn't racing. It was beating arrhythmically. More specifically, I was having intermittent brief spells of my heart beating out of its normal rhythm and then returning to its normal rhythm. It wasn't really bad. Just bad enough that I felt a little uncomfortable with it and am glad that it went away.

The "language" in my post doesn't reflect a deliberate attempt to mimick Wilber or anyone else. I almost never use such language when I speak or write. But it is what I silently said to myself when I read the story about this young man, and I thought it was better to "nakedly reflect" those exact words than to pretty them up.