I’m a bit spaced out today, so bear with me. Elpy left a comment on my blog recently that got me to thinking. Why do bad things have to happen before change can occur? Shouldn’t we, as a society, be proactive in the prevention of bad things, rather than just allowing them to happen to an extreme before safety measures are put into place?
Picture it: Hartford, Connecticut, 1944. Kids flocked from miles around to see the bigtop at the circus. The bigtop which, for reasons unfathomable, was coated with a waterproof chemical that was highly flammable. I won’t get into the gory details, but clowns were mauled and elephants were injured. If you’re interested, a great book about it was written by Stewart O’Nan.
Needless to say, in the aftermath, people realized, “Hmm. Maybe it was stupid to coat the bigtop with flammable chemicals.” Gee, you think? Now, because of that incident, there are safety protocols put in place, as there should’ve been in the first place.
History gets gorier. Picture it: Chicago, 1958, the Our Lady of the Angels Catholic school with elementary and middle-school children. The school catches fire. Fair enough, because they could evacuate, right? Wrong. The nuns who were teaching were told never to evacuate unless the priest gave them the go-ahead. Even though alarms were sounding and smoke was in the air, these idiotic nuns kept the children in class. Yeah, just… no. Here’s the book I read about it.
Today, because of that incident, schools are built with escape route upon escape route. And, uh, the priests no longer get to have the final say in evacuating. Buh-doink.
That’s not all. This next one hits too close to home for comfort. Picture it: Carrollton, Kentucky, 1988. (That’s from Wikipedia. I haven’t read a book about this one, but I grew up hearing about it.) A busful of church youth were traveling home from an amusement park. The bus crashed because of a head-on drunk driver who served just under eleven years in prison. I actually visited his prison and saw him when he was an inmate there. (It was a field trip for my college sociology class.)
I could’ve been one of those kids. I was eleven in 1988, as were many of them. It was so close to where I live. All of the kids have become amazingly mature individuals, many of them working as burn nurses, and it chills me to think of what they went through. Their bus had no useful exits. None that really helped them to escape. It was pretty much a firetrap. One girl’s leg got burnt to a crisp, and when her parents got to the hospital and saw it, they pretty much had to agree with the doctors that it should be amputated. I seriously freak when I think of how composed the victims are about it. One said she pities the drunk driver, Larry Mahoney, because he didn’t set out intending to kill twenty-seven people. Incredible. Their virtue is mind-blowing and inspirational. Just on a spiritual level, I wonder if that bus was filled with old souls. It would have to be.
Today, because of that incident, there are standards for church buses as far as having exits available and other safety features. I’m not sure how much progress has been made against drunk driving, but oh well.
And so now we have George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer who clearly had no clue what he was doing or why he was doing it. It’s incredulous. Who does that?! And now there will be much-needed reform in how policemen are trained, what they’re allowed to do, and so on, and so forth.
But here’s my beef: I sense that in Minneapolis, there wasn’t enough police training going on, or any at all. I think they just hired people and sprung them on the general public. That never should’ve happened, and it shoudn’t have taken Floyd’s death for the idiots in charge to realize that. For crying out loud, every job I ever had working with violent youth included at least a month of training, especially in restraint.
Well, problem solved, with the police department’s ineptitude. Reform, reform, reform. But at what cost? George Floyd is dead. And if the signs had been seen and the corruption not tolerated, he might still be alive. And that makes me sick. There’s no excuse.
As a society, we need to start speaking up when we see something that’s wrong. Like, with my dog, Sammy Samson. He was violent. I took him to the vet’s to have him euthanized, and the vet treated me terribly and sent us home–violent dog in tow. I was trying to be proactive before he could bite anyone. The signs were all there.
Left with no recourse, I gave him to the rescue organization for his breed. They worked with him and found him a new, loving home. But guess what? His issues returned, and they wound up putting him to sleep. Thank God no one was harmed, which was my original motive.
We can’t wait for evidence that something’s dangerous. We need to speak up before an accident can happen. (I’m not saying George Floyd’s death was an accident, but the system was so corrupt and inept that I think it played a role in his death. Trust me, I’m not trying to say his killer isn’t a total criminal.)
But it seems impossible to create a way that safety and prevention can occur. Should there be an organization for it? People who sit around and design rules for safety? If it were governmental, it would likely be comprised of pencil-pushers.
So it’s up to us. When we see that something isn’t working, we need to speak up… before someone dies. Safety is the responsibility of everyone. History needs to quit repeating itself, and we need to take safety and prevention seriously.