Monday, July 31, 2006

Critical Mass Incident Legal Fundraiser Race

Yesterday, I did an alleycat race set up to raise funds for the legal defense of the two guys who were arrested during the Seattle Critical Mass “incident” last month. A good race for a great cause, plenty of cool people and beautiful bikes, topped off with a barbecue in Woodland Park: and I even came in 8th out of about 20.

There was cosmic justice, too. One of the checkpoints required you to meet a guy named Henry and obtain from him the typed-up statement he wrote after witnessing the incident. You were then to make a copy of the statement. Trying to bend the rules a bit, I “made” my “copy” by pleading with Henry to give me two copies of his statement, which he did.

I probably saved five minutes by not having to find somewhere to make a legitimate copy. But then, on the way to the next checkpoint, I got stopped by the opening of the Fremont drawbridge—which cost me at least as much time as I had saved.

Once again, I was reminded that the bicycle gods don’t mess around, but it also made me notice something about my anti-fundamentalist attitude towards rules.

I believe that you should engage in dialogue with your foundational documents, be they the Constitution, the Bible, or the race rules. As Jen pointed out to me, this is mainly because I tend to be a self-interested cheater, but it’s also, I think, because I want there to be an ongoing, living interpretation of the principles which govern us. Times change and I think the rules should, too.

This does, though, illustrate the question that seems to be at the heart of deep divisions in the world today: should we abide by the absolute Letter of the Law? Or should we try to interpret its Spirit?

Or, to put it another way: should we follow the rules or try to get away with whatever we can?


Post a Comment

<< Home