|Courtesy of bagpipeband.wordpress.com|
I don't think I have the courage.
I have been so ill-prepared for so much this summer. Who in a million years would expect a confrontation with a police officer while riding a bike on a bike trail?? Who in the world would expect to be interrogated like a criminal for filing a complaint concerning a bike trail incident?? Who in the world would have expected over 5000 people read my blog?? It's just been crazy!!
But what I have been most unprepared for is the hate. And make no mistake, there is an enormous amount of hate.
These people seem to hate so many things. The most popular thing to hate are bicyclists. One person wrote, "I have seen more bicyclist break the laws of the road more than I have anyone else...they think they own the road and don't have to obey the law. I'm tired of their arrogant attitude. These women deserve what they get." Another person wrote, "All bicyclists are pricks."
Others just hate me...based on what they saw in a one minute, thirty second TV news report. One commenter said they were so annoyed with me, they wanted to give me a ticket for being who I am. Another said I definitely needed clown shoes. Others were certain that this was all to promote my blog. More than one commenter felt it was highly probable I was drunk while I was riding, and many were certain I did not deserve to be a teacher.
No, I was not prepared for all this hate.
But amazing goodness has emerged from this craziness. Friends and family have come forward and expressed outrage at the entire situation. Many have volunteered to serve as character witnesses for me. It has been especially touching to have so many students' support. One former student (who is now a teacher) wrote: "You [are] one of my greatest and favorite mentors; seeing you attacked like this really fires me up! I'll stand up for you any day." How blessed I am.
Complete strangers have also sent me notes. These people have been gracious to share their stories and offer encouragement and advice. One of these strangers is now my lawyer...and my friend. There is so much comfort in the understanding of others. I cherish it.
And then there is a cartoon by Brian Duffy. He seems to understand the utter ridiculous nature of the situation better than most. A good dose of humor is always excellent medicine.
And as a teacher, I cannot help but be stunned and inspired at the power of a blog. I have my students blog to reflect on their reading, to share their thoughts on life and our lessons, to respond to the thoughts of others. My "little blog that could" experience will definitely allow my students to see the power of the written word online, and its ability to affect the world around them. So, yeah....there is hate. But...there is also great goodness, too, and THAT must be by focus.
My great friend and fellow biker, Lisa Schaa, has been so very strong from the start. I was ready to collapse, pay the fine, and make this all go away, but she refused. "No, Cathy," she stated flatly. "It's the principle of the thing. We won't let people bully us. We will keep telling the truth." Thank goodness for Lisa's ability to keep perspectivel. When facing the interrogative techniques the investigators used, she had the sense to sit back, cross her arms and say, "Are you serious?? We are talking about a bike trail, for goodness sake!"
She's right....and she is amazing. She walks forward and I walk behind.
The student who sent his encouragement had posted a status earlier that day. It read: "I let my haters be my motivators." I wish I was that strong. Haters don't motivate me; they just make me hurt. That's how I'm wired, I guess. I will work to have Lisa's strength so they hurt me less. But proving people wrong is no motivation for me.
My motivations are my children. And my students. I do not want my son, daughters, students... anyone....to endure harassment or humiliation. I want my children and students to know they can stand up to those who wish to belittle or bully them. I want them to realize their rights and the power of their voices.
Thank you to those who help me find it.