I'd like to get some feedback from others before I submit this OpEd (opinion/editorial) piece I want to send to the local newspaper. I'm normally not someone who is willing to write an OpEd, but I'm so absolutely angry right now that I want this out there for people to consider. As I'm sure you'll be able to figure out, I just confronted someone who was illegally parked (in two handicapped stalls and an access aisle) who threatened me in return. I had already called the police who clearly had no interest in dealing with it. Please share your feedback with me so I know if I've stated myself clearly or could use some fine tuning. I may have gone a little overboard with 'big words', but when I'm angry they tend to come out. I had to rewrite it a few times due to errors on the submission page and losing everything I had typed, but I've read it to myself twice after finishing it so I think I have it about right. Still, your feedback is appreciated. (Note: it has a limit of 4125 characters and 750 words and I'm at 4113 and 750 words so if I add I also have to remove.)
EDIT: I've found a website to be used to report people who are illegally parked in handicapped parking. The information is sent monthly to each state for review and (hopefully) penalties. If you see someone illegally parked in a handicapped stall, PLEASE report it to the police or to this website.
At what point in history did our society determine that it is okay for some people to willingly and maliciously hurt others, especially the disabled? We've all seen people illegally parked in handicapped parking stalls. Who has stepped forward and done anything about it? Upon calling the police about one such person I was met with a scoff and a condescending remark from a dispatcher about how they're too busy and will be there eventually. By the time 30-60 minutes passes and they arrive the car is long gone. When the risk of a $200 or even $500 fine is not enough to dissuade someone from denying rights to others, is it okay for police to also ignore it? Once someone is allowed to be a bully they will continue to do so until the consequences are enforced. There's a movement happening to combat bullying in our schools, but what about the bullies who have grown up and now feel free reign to harass other adults? Yet, as people say "kids will be kids", now the sentiment has carried over to adults who are allowed to inflict damage and pain without fear of retribution. Those who are immoral and lack empathy are allowed to deny rights to those who are caring, helpful to others, and have a conscience. How many times have you honestly experienced what is claimed as "Minnesota Nice"? Our roads are filled with people who will just as soon cause an accident as allow you to drive unimpeded near them. Parking lots are full of people so busy with distractions that accidents they cause are claimed as "not my fault" and followed by false insurance claims. In grocery stores motorized carts are damaged or blocked so they can't be used. People park on ramps and in access lanes to deny others easy entry. "No Parking" signs are ignored and "fire lanes" are blocked because "This one time it's not going to matter."
Will our society eventually become warring factions battling to see who has rights and who doesn't? That's a trick question, as it is already happening to your neighbors. People who are unwilling or unable to defend themselves are harassed and hurt every day. Neighbors threaten neighbor's lives and destroy property while police claim it isn't real. Adult bullies are causing such harm that few feel safe enough to stand up for anyone else. In the eyes of the law these people have committed a crime, yet if it "isn't that bad" then it supposedly doesn't matter. Well, it does matter. Is the definition of "Minnesota Nice" so minuscule that it's only worthwhile if you are praised and rewarded? Maybe I've just been privy to meet some of the worst, but 9 out of 10 people I meet are either downright cruel or so focused on enjoying their spoils that whatever detrimental damage they do is of no concern.
As a person who is disabled by rare conditions many people can't understand, I am appalled by the treatment I've received by my fellow Minnesotans. It saddens me every time I see yet another person denying someone their rights. I'm disgusted when others refuse to come to the aid of those who need it most. I'm sickened by the utter disregard of the law. It's disturbing to know that our society so greatly lacks respect it has become okay to blatantly cause harm without remorse.
Why should you care about these issues, you ask? Because someday it will be you or someone you care about who is wronged with no justice sought. Will you jump in and exact revenge on your own? Of course then you'll be the one charged with crimes. If we can't solve the problem through retaliation and vengeance, what else can we do? The next time you see a bully don't blow it off - get involved! Call the police, step in and protect the person, or in the least be willing say something in condemnation. Silence is what allowed those childhood bullies to become that adult illegally parked, making fun of the disadvantaged, or causing a multiple car pileup. Choosing not to be involved can lead to others giving up on life. Allowing some police to believe that small crimes are not important is feeding complacency.
I look forward to someone stepping in to protect me next time I'm threatened.