Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blaming the victims- not the way to make friends or influence people. Followup to the Johnson Valley race tragedy.

Folks, I have been following the Johnson Valley race tragedy in the news and online
since it happened. I heard of a tale of heroism from a friend of mine, who said he
heard or saw media reports of someone selflessly sacrificing his own life to push
others out of the onrushing truck’s way. I don’t know if that happened or not, but often in
horrendous events like this, it does, as the Lord said two millenia ago, “greater love
hath no man than this, that he give up his life for his friends.” I may be paraphrasing
there but you understand the point. At the time of greatest personal danger, they
thought of others; friends, family members, or complete strangers first- the absolute
opposite of “me first” and one of mankind’s  most noble traits.

However, also in times like these, sometimes the worst instincts in man come out,
people turn on one another, harsh words are spoken, words in some cases, that once
out, either can not be taken back, or if they are, can never be forgiven by those who,
in this case have suffered unbearable losses.

I realize that this is a young sport with a lot of young people participating it. Being young
once myself, I know that sometimes you say things that you really don’t mean, or respond
to events in a less than mature way. Believe it or not, sometimes wisdom does come
with age. There’s a reason that throughout human history, elders have been accorded
respect and have been listened to.

I believe at this time, the elders in this sport need to step forward and begin leading. If
there are none, parents should come in and speak for their children who were participants.
It does your sport, your cause, and yourselves no good at all when you play “blame the
victims”, in this case the ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. This type
of behavior is childish, self defeating, and self destructive. You dehumanize the accident victims when you do this, and therefore dehumanize yourselves. They don’t deserve this sort of treatment, especially after they gave all they had that night. After all this, where is
your sense of fairness? Where is your sense of shame?

The elders also need to speak out  forcefully  against any further talk of any actions that
can be construed by the authorities and your fellow citizens as a coverup. This activity
was conducted in public and on public land and the public knows about the tragedy. They
want and need answers to the questions that need to be asked- how could such an event
occur without any means to keep fans from harms way especially at the area known as
the rocks where this tragedy took place, where were the organizers and why didn’t they have crowd control people holding back folks, especially at that location,  and who were those misguided individuals counseling the coverup in the first place? I sure hope by now
that they have been made aware of just how damaging that attempt to hold back the truth
getting out was.

Hard times, trying times are heading your way. The way to survive these times with the
sport you love intact, is to cooperate fully with the officials, both in the spirit and letter of
the law. You just don’t have this many people die and expect things to go back to the status  quo, it’s not going to happen.
Just in off the wire. The BLM has suspended all permits for the
race organizer, MDR, indefinitely while the investigation continues.
I reiterate the way to save your sport is to cooperate with the
authorities as they search for the truth of what happened and why.

Prepare yourselves for major changes in the rules- in your sport and in your arena- our
Mojave Desert. I am afraid the old ways of anything goes, no rules or rules not being
enforced are going the way of the dinosaurs. It isn’t the wild west out there, the rules of
normal, polite society still apply. The people in the form of the state will insist on it, and
the man will be out in force to make sure the rules are followed in the future.

And please, no more of the talk I have been reading online, this kind of juvenile trash
talk is beneath you and really is an insult to the rest of us and to the surviving family
members. You are not the victims here, believe it or not. Nobody wants to hear it.
What we want and need to hear you say, is that you get the message,
and you will work hard to make your sport safer so that it can be continued
to be enjoyed into the future.

The remarks in the above paragraph, by the way, are directed at those both young and old
that have been quoted in the media reports. The remarks below are mainly for the young
people quoted in the above mentioned media reports, people whose future lies ahead
over the next few decades.

I have been honored lately working with young people and I know in my heart that they
all want to enjoy life, have fun safely, and don’t go around looking for ways to hurt others.
We are asking you to think about what you say before you say it, and to carry yourselves
with some honor and a little humility, those that may have spoken rashly.

And we know, I think, that you also have suffered major emotional harm from this and
deep down, didn’t really mean to say some of the things that were said. It’s not too late
to say that you are sorry and to ask for forgiveness.

Try it please. Don’t put up walls now at this time of all times.  Come together now as a family with your friends and do what is right, what you, I believe, know to be the only
right and proper course at such a sad time for so many.

Vaya con dios.