Prejudice exists in so many parts of life. The Black Lives Matter movement was a fantastic moment as it highlighted those people in positions of power who commit racist acts every day. More than that it asked us all to look inwardly and discover if we have hidden prejudices that we are unaware of. Most of us do. That does not make you a bad person but ignoring them does not help. It is time to face up to our prejudices whether they are big or small and start to learn to be better. This story is a great example of prejudice.
This story is about one lifeguard. A man whose job it is to save lives. Our lifeguard in question is tall, muscular, and fantastic at his job. He never takes his eyes off the water and is always able to spot danger before it happens. His name is Mike and he works the toughest most dangerous part of Newport Beach. Every day there are new disasters that need to be solved, possible drownings that need to be saved. If you have ever been in a situation where it is your responsibility to save a life if something goes wrong, you will know that you spend most of that time praying that something does not go wrong. Mike is different, he puts himself in the most dangerous part of the water because he knows he has the ability to save lives when he is called to.
On one summer’s day, Mike was on lifeguard duty and spotted two children in deep water. If they were good swimmers they were going to be fine but Mike’s years of experience told him they would soon be in trouble. He radioed to the nearest tower and said he was going out to check on them and to watch out. By the time he was halfway to the children they were caught in a rip and were stuck. A rip is an undercurrent in the water that brings water away from the beach. If you swim towards the beach in a rip you will tire quickly and possibly drown. A rip is especially dangerous for children who panic and swim towards the land they see. That is exactly what was happening. The two children were panicking and by now Mike could only see their noses bobbing occasionally above the water.
By the time Mike reached them, he could see the boy but the girl has disappeared. He reached down and felt her hair and grabbed her out of the water. Holding both children he swam sideways to get out of the rip and then back to sure. The children were so tired that he had to carry them the whole way. As he approached the beach the mother of the children stopped screaming in panic and slowly relaxed. Her children had been saved. What happened next was disgusting.
Mike is a man who has lived a tough life. He is bald with a large scar on his head, from a broken beer bottle. He has tattoos covering his entire body, ones that are, to be honest, a little intimidating. As the woman approached Mike, her fear lifted again, she was no longer afraid of the water, she was now afraid of the man. Even though he had just saved her children’s lives she ripped the children from him and quickly got away, not a word of thanks.
To be so blind by prejudice to not even see the hero that lay before her shows there is something wrong with this world. That woman is not a bad person. The tattoos were intimidating, she was not used to it. She was frightened, she was ignorant. She was simply scared for her children. However, that man saved her kids and deserved a lot better. We all deserve a lot better. To get better we must try to be better. Let’s defeat prejudice together.