I like cops. Their brave and courageous peeps! In times of danger and damsels in distress they help when everyone else is wiggin' out. But, when I see them giving the local skateboarding teens a hassle it makes me want to pay the local barber to put the words “Kick Me!’ into their buzz cut. I mean for 1.) Skateboarders aren’t doing drugs, drinking alcohol or vandalizing anything 2.) They are not killing brain cells and souls by playing video games and looking at porn online 3.) They are getting adequate exercise and plenty of Vitamin D from the sun. I know some people over the age of 30 who can't compete with those numbers. I think that if anything the city should host an annual parade saluting all of the local skateboarders in the area for being such upstanding teenage citizens and give us all free slurpees from the local 7 11.
As usual the city doesn’t see things my way. They see the skateboarders as a hindrance to public property and a danger to themselves. When their skateboards glide of railings, benches and ricochet off the side of curbs they cause some property damage. Never the less they cause a lot of trips to the ER with their risky and talented aerodynamic thrills. So now, anyone who resembles a skateboarder in my area, meaning a teenager, skinny jeans, Vans and a hair cut that resembles the boys from the Brady Brunch are deemed hooligans. They get hassled by the cops on the street, in coffee shops and anywhere else in sight. As if wearing a pair of Vans deems you a property damaging scum bag.
I thought this typecasting by the cops in my area was messed up until a couple of weeks ago when I was visiting a friend in Downtown Los Angeles. I’m a big fan of L.A. there are amazing galleries, museums, shopping, good eats and culture. I love the feel of a big congested city and even welcome the traffic. However there are some shady parts that one needs to be aware of. So I’m driving in downtown L.A. and listening to my navigation system and driving. My brain synapses went like this…
Notice graffiti in the neighborhood…awesome!
Notice homeless people pushing carts….sad..but awesome!
Notice a homeless man playing with his “junk” on the sidewalk …. gross....but awesome!
Notice I just passed a Greyhound Bus stop…. Uh oh…I think I’m in a baaaaaaad neighborhood.
I realize my thought process and laugh at myself. I find it funny that a man fondling himself in daylight doesn’t alarm me but a Greyhound bus stop does? I’ve rode a Greyhound bus in my past so I can say that one trip on it is an “education” in and of itself. But, I then thought about who rides Greyhound busses. In my experience it is largely ethnic minorities. I start to wonder how the symbol of a Greyhound bus makes me assume things about it's occupants. I wonder if maybe my assumptions about people who ride Greyhound buses are like the assumptions of the cops in my neighborhood around skateboarders? Maybe I’m a little bit (or a lot) like the cops in my neighborhood? I wonder if sometimes when I'm not even aware of it I just lump people together and assume I know everything about them without getting to know them first?
I hate to say it, but it is very true that in the past it has made me uncomfortable to be around people who are poor, who don’t speak my language, who have different intrerests and come from a very different walk of life, who like different music and styles of clothes. I know that at times these differences are challenging to relate to and sometimes I would simply rather not deal with them. But, then I have to ask myself, "Are these the actions of a BEAUTIFUL person? Of a KIND person?"
I think being kind isn’t just being kind to yourself and people you love, sometimes it’s being kind to people who are different. People who make you uncomfortable and maybe even annoy you. It could be someone who is racially different, religiously different, sexually orientated differently or maybe even alot younger or alot older.
You don’t have to start being best friends with these people, but I would suggest that you start to ask yourself some questions:
1.) What makes me uncomfortable about people who are different?
2.) What would it be like if they thought of me the way I thought of them?
3.) What do I like about people who are different?
4.) What would the world be like if we were all the same?
Keepin’ it Beautiful!