Sarah Tatterson?s tale of chasing down a bike thief made it onto Good Morning America the day after her graduation from the school. The experience was challenging for Sarah and brought to life many of the societal and cultural issues that she grappled with on a daily basis in the school's counseling degree program. Sarah took the time to write a reflection for us about the experience and the themes that were raised throughout the process.
?I chased down a bike thief last week, which unexpectedly launched me into my 15 minutes of fame, complete with a blog posting and a blip on the evening news. Now grateful for the dimming limelight, I find myself wrestling with the various questions this experience has percolated. A recent graduate of Seattle University and its School of Theology and Ministry means I spend an awful lot of time analyzing and reflecting on human behavior. We therapists (good ones, anyway) probably spend equal hours analyzing ourselves as we do others, so it is not surprising that I am still peeling this onion.
All of us have been victims at some point. It?s impossible to live on this planet and not experience human depravity, your own and that of others. Admittedly, it feels much more comfortable talking about these issues with individuals in a cozy office stocked with Kleenex than pursuing them down a main West Seattle street screaming for police assistance. My anger and unwillingness to be victimized (and I use that word lightly here - it was just a bike, after all) smacked up against some genuine curiosity about the man that had just tried to steal from me. As I follow him through our neighborhood, I know well enough that his story is far deeper than his choice to break the law. I do not subscribe to the collective 'scourge of the earth' mentality that our society perpetuates in regards to criminals. I?ve seen way too much of human resilience to so easily disregard people with such arrogance. At the same time, this man was breaking the law, violating my sense of safety and taking what was not his. And, I have a sneaking suspicion; this is not his first round up.
Our justice system tends to be punitive and the likelihood of this man?s rehabilitation and reconciliation with himself and society is something I question. But given the fact that, despite my best efforts, I could not get him to talk about his feelings while being chased into a cop car, he went to jail.
An un-ignorable component of justice is equity. The ridiculousness of a white, upper-middle class, educated woman chasing down a likely poor, disenfranchised, minority male angered me as much, if not more, than him trying to steal my husband?s bike.? The stereotype lives on in my own back alley apparently. To be clear, I am not taking personal responsibility for where this man finds himself in life. But I am aware that both he and I live and breathe within cultural and societal structures that probably benefit me more than him.
Unfortunately, I don?t have all the answers. We can?t force repentance upon others but we can choose to wrestle with the concept of true justice. God would have him reconciled to himself, to his community and to his creator. I hope and still pray that he will find a different way to live despite the inequities in our society. And I am a willing participant of that process.?
More information on the MA in Relationship & Pastoral Therapy, visit here.
Links to media posts of the story:
- Good Morning America
- The UK's Daily Mail
- ABC News
- NY Daily News
- King 5 News:? Video? |? Web
- Syracuse New Times
- News Max
?Sarah Tatterson & Joanna Benson (right), both 2013 alumni