It used to be that the greatest threat to human beings were large animals. Supposedly we’ve evolved in some way, conquering both nature as a wild place and our own nature as a result.
But it isn’t quite true. In fact last night I dreamed that I was in a farm setting of some sort and a herd of beefalo (that’s a cow and a buffalo hybrid) was set loose and stampeded through the barn.
Perhaps it’s a reaction to two incidents of late where stupid beasts were set loose on the roads of society. Two separate accidents between cyclists and cars this past week in our immediate area resulted in damage to both cyclists and bikes while the stupid beast vehicles rolled off Scott free.
The first incident was the result of a road rage situation. A woman tried to whip around a band of cyclists in our suburbs and struck two of the bikes, totaling one of them.
The second incident involved a woman turning her vehicle directly into the path of an oncoming cyclist. The woman was focusedly searching for the entrance to a Juvenile Detention Center and completely failed to look for oncoming traffic.
Notice that there was intention to both incidents. The first driver of a stupid beast vehicle was madly pursuing her own schedule. The second was driving with intention yet with distraction. As a result, a cyclist had to lay down her bike and take some road rash and a beat up bike frame in the process.
You can argue forever whether cyclists are exhibiting good road habits or not. For some reason in countries that not only accept but promote cycling as transportation and recreation, motorists learn to steer their dumb beasts with a bit more respect for people riding bikes.
But not in America. In this country the dumb beasts are on something of a rampage, with social media fueling some of their anger at having to share the road with people on bikes. Yes, there are some motorists with considerate qualities. But even they can be prone to distraction, texting or reaching back to get the sippy cup for a screaming child. You get the picture.
A vehicle is nothing more than a dumb beast, and it will forever be so. Even if we ultimately design cars and trucks that can avoid accidents on their own, those vehicles will still be dumb beasts. Even a beefalo knows that.
But America prides itself on the virtue of dumb beasts. We laud our football players for banging their heads together until they are damaged for life. We send our soldiers off to war and can’t find the money to help them recover from merciless effects when they come home. We prize our dumb beasts for what we claim they deliver; entertainment and freedom to do what the fuck we want while others suffer.
That’s the driving force of conflict between people steering dumb beasts on our roads and cyclists trying to get places or to enjoy a bit of fitness and recreation. Frankly it’s a prime example of evolution in action. There is selective pressure going on in which the dumb beasts are running over and colliding with much more sentient and vulnerable creatures.
And yes, in some cases cyclists are making dumb decisions or being dumb little beast themselves.
But a civilized society is supposed to compensate for its own vulnerabilities. This is especially true where rights are equally bestowed yet the weight of one beast over another is clearly unequal. Such is the state of our current economy in which money policies highly favor the haves over the have-nots. The dumb beasts of wealth care not who they run over on the route to more money. In fact, they rather pride themselves on the ability to turn the entire economy into a dumb beast at their will.
But as a result, all of society suffers (and borrows) and tries everything they can to stay on the road to prosperity. Yet the dumb beasts of untold wealth view them as nothing more than road kill.
People driving dumb beasts feel insulated and strong inside their vehicles. They have no reason, it would seem, to accommodate a weaker mode of transport. Especially not one wearing Spandex or weaving down the road carrying a bag of groceries.
Dumb beasts are everywhere, you see. From the top of society down to the rusted Econoline that buzzed us in anger a few weeks ago, stupidity reigns.
We see dumb beasts waving Confederate Flags because, as they say, it’s a sign of their once proud domination over others. And we see dumb beasts wearing hoods and marching for white supremacy because the herd mentality is all they’ve got left. It’s a stampede of idiocy, but it’s their stampede, goddamnit. Just try to stop them. Militias. Gun lobbies. Or selfish bastards trying to tell women how to run their own bodies. Dumb beasts equipped with guns and pricks.
And we see dumb beasts rooting for Donald Trump because he is the dumbest rich beast of all. He seems not to care who he runs over on the way to his own aggrandizement. What a symbol for a selfish society he truly is! His misogyny in hosting beauty pageants while ridiculing women and taking pride in coining the phrase “You’re fired” is absolutely an expression of everything that is wrong with America today.
We’re a nation of dumb beasts who choose leaders like we choose our cars. We slip inside their worlds and grab hold of a steering wheel and stop thinking for ourselves. If the vehicle can tell us how to get where we’re going, all the better. And if the vehicle plays happy or angry or sad tunes to distract our emotions from reality, that’s just great. And if the vehicle makes us somehow feel superior to others because it looks nice or at least gets us to the next fast food place for a cheeseburger, over to the roadhouse for a drink or up the road on a Tinder mission to get laid, that’s just dandy. Dumb beasts want their shit, and they want it now.
And the dumb beasts shall always rule if that’s all we expect from ourselves.
But if you’re a cyclist, you can’t afford to be such a dumb beast. You have to make smarter choices and in some cases, count on the fact that there are giant dumb beasts all around you. Fortunately the woman victimized in the second incident described above was looking out for the actions of the dumb beast she saw ahead on the road. “They can’t be turning into my lane,” she thought. But they were, and she braked and took evasive action by laying her bike down on the tarmac.
That’s a smart little beast right there. We should all be so smart while riding, lest the dumb beasts kill us all. They’d be all too happy to be free of the obligation to accommodate the rights and freedoms of others. Let the law or the regulations or the signs that say Share the Road be damned. In their minds, this is America, goddamnit. “I shouldn’t have to worry about a goddamned bike,” they say.
Or a goddamned poor person. Or a goddamned old lady. Or a goddamned person of a different color, or religion or sexual orientation.
It’s my goddamned country, the dumb beasts say. Get off the goddamned road.