Found via email, author unknown
The analogy of my nation as a bus keeps coming to me, as if in a dream.
It’s a big fancy bus, and it drives through some of the poorest sections of town. When it does, it splashes pedestrians, runs stop signs, sideswipes parked cars. The passengers are a mixed bag, but the most vocal and aggressive ones seem to think they speak for everyone on the bus.
A while back, the passengers voted for a new driver, but some of the big tough guys stood in the front of the bus and collectively told the rest of the passengers that the
vote was so close, that they were going to put their own driver in, and we should all get over it. Then we started driving through the poor neighborhoods even faster,
running over kids’ pets, while the driver and the tough guys hooted and gave the bird to the folks scrambling to get out of the way.
One morning, some kids came running out of an alley and smashed a couple of windows on the bus. You could hear the other neighbors hooting and jeering. The bus pulled over, and a group of the tough guys chased after the kids. Whether they caught them, no one could tell, but they sure wailed on some of the other kids in the neighborhood. Then we drove to another poor area, but instead of passing
through, the bus stopped and the tough guys ran off and started beating up every kid who gave them a dirty look. They did the same thing in the next neighborhood. And the next.
Now they say they’re going to keep doing it until we can drive this bus the way we want, where we want, with no grief from the people whose neighborhoods we traverse. I have to ride this bus. I have always ridden this bus. I don’t feel safe walking through these parts of town. Used to be, when the bus driver took it a little slower and didn’t make such a ruckus going through town, everybody pretty much left each other alone. But now these tough guys are walking up and down the aisles, high-fiving it with each other, and there isn’t a run-down slum that doesn’t want to burn this bus and everybody on it.
It takes three times as long as before to make the drive, the fare has doubled, and everybody gets searched when they board. The tough guys keep yelling to the rest of the passengers that we are really kicking ass now, and we need to stick together until we see this thing through. I look at some of the other passengers, and like me, they are kind of hunched over in their seats, not wanting to be conspicuous, but not comfortable with their options– staying on the bus or walking through the angry ghetto.
I look out the window, and when some scrawny kid runs up behind one of our tough guys and whacks him with a board, I get angry, and I actually want the tough guys to teach him a lesson. But when a tough guy box-kicks his way through a bunch of preschoolers, I feel worse. I grip the back of the forward seat and look straight ahead, eyes slightly out of focus.
This was my bus. What happened?