A Teachable Moment

by William Skink

I live in a bubble of beauty that seems to reject the reality of what I absorb through my screens.

Lilacs are blooming, the grass is green, and I go to the river frequently with my big Noofie.

Last weekend I took my boys to Helena. On the way back we stopped at a place off I-90 I’ve always been curious about.

We pulled off the highway and parked. There were numerous NO PARKING signs, which I ignored. Since there were two other cars parked, I figured we could make a quick stop to check things out.

The young folks returning to their cars said they had received warning notices on their windshield from highway patrol. I thanked them for the heads up, and proceeded to Nimrod Springs.

One of my kids was worried about what we were doing. I assured him we would be quick, and that the worst that would happen if highway patrol came along is I would get a ticket for parking in a no parking area.

The day before this outing, my wife and I had a talk with our kids about our white privilege. We told them that for their safety there would have been all kinds of things we, as their parents, would have had to tell them NOT to do in order to keep them safe.

We spent about 15 minutes enjoying a natural spring pouring clear water into a shallow pool beside the highway. As we returned to our car, I told the kids that if I was a black man with my kids, there is no way I would have blatantly disregarded NO PARKING signs to check out a roadside attraction.

We are at a point right now where the words “civil” and “war” feels more like a lived experience than a history lesson. How did we get here? Where are we going? And will there be an honest accounting of what went down during this time of tailored madness and a carefully cultivated fear?

Stay safe out there, peaceful citizens of Missoula. Now is not the time to throw yourself into righteous confrontations. Keep your cameras ready to record, and feet ready to retreat if trouble comes.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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