When I moved to Topeka (a year ago this memorial day weekend) I was surprised by the frequency of concerns that people shared about safety issues. I was told where not to live, where not to shop, where not to ride my bike, where I could get ice cream with someone and where I could not get ice cream by myself, because it would be unsafe. I sat in a cubicle and listened to my co-worker freak out every time the TV station sent her scary updates about crime on her phone. My thought process went like this; “Is it necessary to give the crime stats that much attention? Do I need to join this cloud of fear? Should I just become a hermit? How safe is safe?”
I was “advised” not to ride my bike to the West of Burlingame on the Shunga which caused me to complain about not being able to do so. John recently challenged me in this thinking asking me what would make me feel safer. I replied, “Having people around on the trails and having other’s recommendation to ride there.” So if everyone tells everyone else that we shouldn’t ride our bikes on certain parts of the Shunga, then no one is out there to make the ride seem safe. Hmm…Or, if people started riding on all parts of the trail, then maybe the unsafe feeling would go away. Maybe the stories we tell ourselves and each other would change.
Would this looming cloud of fear look differently if the newspaper splashed positive messages front and center instead of constantly reporting on our non-heroes? Through our newspaper, TV alert text messages, and casual conversations what are we giving the most attention to? What is the story we are telling ourselves?
May 20, 2015