I just started my night shift hours hot on the heels of 2 weeks spent 9 time zones away. I’m adjusting, but barely, so here’s a collection of random thoughts.
I spent most of my vacation aboard a river cruise boat, traveling along the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers. It was a small boat, with only about 120 passengers, so I got to know nearly everyone on board. I met some lovely people, but I was also made aware that some people can have everything (or at least enough of everything to be able to afford really nice vacations) and still manage to find something to be unhappy about.
Amsterdam is known as one of the world’s most liberal cities, with good reason (although, now that Washington and Colorado enable unlimited partying, it might become less of a hub for certain activities). So, can someone explain to me why, after I spent a day amid the pandemonium that is driving a motorcycle in the Netherlands (amid bikes, small scooter, Segways, mobility scooters, bikes with dog bins mounted to the front and back, cars, other motorcycles, sheep …, not to mention often not being quite sure if I was on the road or a bike path), and then a full hour traveling the 2 miles through Amsterdam to the shop to return it, working upstream through a sea of still more bikes, partying pedestrians, scooters, motorcycles and horses (hint, don’t try to do this in Amsterdam on a Saturday night in the summer), a cop came out of nowhere to prevent me from walking on a narrow non-sidewalk under a train bridge near the central station?
I mean, maybe he was concerned for my safety, and I appreciate that, but why was that the ONLY thing that appeared to be forbidden, in the entire city? Prostitution and drug use? OK! Masses of people flowing like water all over the streets and bike paths (but oddly, not ON the water), with no apparent regard for lanes, direction signs, stop signs, traffic lights or common sense? Go for it! Walk 20 feet on something not designated as a sidewalk? Stop right there!
I wanted to ask him, but I didn’t think it would go well.
Sometimes people check out of conversations about race because they say “no matter what I say, I’m always wrong, so I’m going to just stop trying.” So, my question is … what if you are wrong? What if no matter what you say, you keep saying things that are offensive? Or what if you perpetually fail to understand privilege in a way that’s offensive to people who have none? When you step out of the conversation you guarantee that you’ll never “get it” because you have stopped trying. And here’s the painful irony – that same privilege that people are complaining to you about is the exact same privilege that enables you to abandon a conversation that’s uncomfortable for you. But for a person who doesn’t have that privilege, they’re not able to walk away when things get uncomfortable.