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Meghan Swanson 0:00
Coming dead on. If I roll to one side or the tire if I roll to the other side there’s a tire.
Curt Carstensen 0:21
This is People I Know Show. I’m Curt Carstensen. It has been quite the week here in the Minneapolis area, with the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police on Memorial Day, and then protests in Minneapolis in the days following, which correlate it with writing for several days. And then that all expanded the protests, some of the rioting and looting expanded to many other parts of the United States of America. If you saw the news on Sunday, you witnessed video of a near catastrophe as a Twins Cities area truck driver somehow found his way onto the interstate 35 w bridge over the Mississippi River. The road was supposed to be closed, but some cars had gotten trapped on it. And he was heading right for a crowd of thousands of protesters on the highway. And he stopped just in time. And when I say just in time, there was one person that stood up most in the video when I saw it. And it was my friend colleague, Megan Swanson. She is my guest for Episode 79. Today, we’ll talk about that moment. What she recalls what her emotions were and have been and more generally why she was there. As we each share opinions on why we find this cause so important. I thought this was a great conversation. Obviously, extremely timely. That’s why this episode is coming up midweek and then moving forward from here. I’m not sure which days my next episodes will be but for a while, anticipate they’ll all be related to what’s happening now in the Twin Cities and in many other places. This one you might want to watch on video on the People I Know Show channel on YouTube, you’ll be able to see several of the moments that Megan describes from her near death experience on Sunday. I also go to the People I Know Show clips channel and subscribe there. And as I release clips from this and all my podcast episodes, if you turn on your notifications, you will get notified. You can also check out my blog CurtCarstensen.com, there’ll be some extra content there also, follow People I Know Show on Instagram and on Facebook. You’ll find links for all this in the episode show notes now to my conversation with Meghan Swanson. Hello Meghan.
Meghan Swanson 2:58
Curt Carstensen 3:00
Today is June 2 as we record this, and I learned yesterday, what happened to you the day before on Sunday. So it’s been a strange two days.
Meghan Swanson 3:14
And it’s been a wild and tiring two days.
Curt Carstensen 3:18
So here’s my perspective, which is a very outside perspective and they’re going to give the very inside perspective on Sunday I was on the phone. I saw the notification come down on my phone that said semi plows into protesters or something it was it probably wasn’t correct in the wording but I immediately thought the worst turned on the TV and this had happened like a half hour earlier. Since then. I’ve seen a bunch of video I saw this one person that was right at the front of the truck nearly getting hit. And then yesterday I found out that was apparently you
Meghan Swanson 3:58
That was me.
Curt Carstensen 4:00
Megan, that’s that’s a wild story. Explain. Explain the emotions that you’ve been through since then, and I have so many questions about it. But tell me how you’re how you’re doing today. Two days later.
Meghan Swanson 4:13
Today, I’m doing much better. I’m, like I said to you earlier, I’m a little bit more at peace with how…I don’t know. Now that I know it wasn’t like meant. I mean, you look at protests that have happened in the past, around the East Coast with that girl getting hit by the car driving to the crowd that was peaceful, protesting like, it happens, and that was intentional. So you’re all fired up immediately after, like, you can see it in the video footage. People were attacking the truck immediately. And that was my thought too, like, there’s absolutely no way you didn’t See this sea of people moving through the city. You didn’t see or know that anything was going on today. Like I was mad, but today, I feel better. But I’m feeling like I want to be out there again. So feel driven.
Curt Carstensen 5:18
When we messaged about this yesterday, something you brought up is needing a sense of closure. Like you wanted to know what was going on through that guy’s mind. And obviously at this point, we haven’t seen or heard from him specifically, but the news reports indicate a scenario where he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, maybe trying to go home. And by the time he realized what was happening, I suppose there’s a human element of you don’t expect to see it before he saw the group of people. He probably wasn’t expecting to see a group of people on the freeway. And then in those first few seconds of reacting There’s initially a lot of criticism over what he did, but who knows what we do in that moment. I guess in the end, you’re feeling better about his lack of intent to hurt anybody, and you didn’t get hurt. And in fact, it looks like in the video, then the last moment he swerved a little bit to avoid hitting you.
Meghan Swanson 6:17
That’s, that’s what helps me today. I was yesterday I was searching, I was napping. And then I was searching again for more and more angles and footage of like what happened? And I kept waiting for like, a clip to come up saying, We’ve spoken to the driver, this is what’s gonna happen because like you said, I wanted to know why. I wanted to know why he was there. But I saw that one little clip that one angle that was just like just enough because I kid you not. I 100% thought I was going to die.
Curt Carstensen 6:55
And you laugh about it and clearly that’s a not a laugh of, of humor. Maybe more of relief or something else. What so just before we started recording, I went on to YouTube and I found some new perspectives of people recording. So there’s thousands of people on the i 35 w bridge, which of course 11 years ago, the old bridge there collapsed into the Mississippi River. So this is a very big new strong bridge probably one of the strongest you’ve ever. Yeah, they’d ever created because of what happened previously, a lot of people on there and it seemed like I’d heard like he was there. After having I heard people explain the account that he was laying on the horn for like 20 seconds, which might have been true, but when I watch one of these videos recording the audio, it happened, it felt like to me, it was happening within six seconds
Meghan Swanson 7:47
So fast. It happened so fast. I mean, I can describe the scene and like the moments leading up to it because that’s literally all Was moments. And he didn’t start holding down the horn until like, after he had stopped and people jumped onto his truck. That’s when he held his horn. And I’m thinking that was him announcing, like, I’m getting out of here, like, get off. I mean, people are attacking him. He had a human reaction. Your human reaction is too hard to hold the horn. He was honking coming into the crowd, but he didn’t hold it or anything until he had already stopped.
Curt Carstensen 8:30
What was happening in these, obviously people are out there protesting you’re a part of this large group that had moved, I think from US Bank Stadium where the Minnesota Vikings play not terribly far from the location of the bridge, but that would have taken some time to get from the stadium.
Meghan Swanson 8:46
Yeah, um, we walked. I don’t remember the direct route. Because I mean, I was just kind of following the crowds, and like paying attention to the people and like all the support that we’re getting from the balconies cars driving by or honking, people were hanging out the windows like, everyone was supportive of this, it was such a beautiful thing to see. But like we looped down around, and we were actually on the other side of the freeway. And then my friends wanted to hop, the median and get on to the other side. So we hopped over there. And like, we started weaving our way up to the close up to the more towards the front, because that’s what the secret word we wanted to hear it. Sorry, I lost my tangent.
Curt Carstensen 9:39
Well, you’re repositioning yourself. Is that just a minute or two before this happened or along?
Meghan Swanson 9:46
like five minutes before it happened? Yeah, we jumped over. And we the protesters at the US Bank Stadium. We were all sitting down. We were singing Songs lean on me when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend. And the organizers were on their horn saying, what are we going to do at eight go home? What are we going to do at eight go home. And it was just so like everyone was sitting and companionship and we did that again on the bridge. Like everyone took a knee. Thousands and thousands of people started taking a knee and they started talking to us. I guess I’m taking myself for forgetting his name right now, but he was the man in the gray suit. He was one of the organizers who’s a professional basketball player. Now he works at Wells Fargo.
Curt Carstensen 10:41
PJ Hill maybe is the name I think I heard.
Meghan Swanson 10:43
Thank you. I’m so bad with names. But he was literally saying standing there and was like, we’re gonna get Royce Royce up here. The mayor is gonna come and talk to us in a couple minutes. Like he’s on his way. And so he wrote We started like walking up and people started clapping and standing up and so my friend was sitting right next to me and another friend of mine she started walking up towards that because she wanted better pictures. So my friend started standing up and everyone around us kind of started ambling slowly up and then within a second people’s cheers turned to oh my god run. and it was like a wave in the ocean, you know how they build like, goes up and whatsoever underneath is kind of crushed over the building power of the front of the wave. Yeah, we were kind of at the very back end of the edge of where the wave was building. And we just saw all these people like coming at us and partying like the Red Sea. And she’s gonna kill me for saying this but my friend all I saw her All I heard was her saying Stop, stop. We can’t get up. I saw her drop her cell phone. And then I saw her, someone yank her and our but when in front of my face, and the next thing I knew as soon as their boat was gone, the semi truck was just there.
Curt Carstensen 12:15
So you both fell down.
Meghan Swanson 12:17
Yeah, we were both it. It was a bunch of people like, I don’t want to say people are shoving us down or pushing us down. But like, people were getting knocked over, people were getting shoved down. People were bending over to trying to get their phones because everyone’s out, trying to record these things. So people can’t really see what’s coming because there’s so many people in front of us until you see it and then you’re moving. So it’s a human reaction. People were panicked. I thought honestly that the police had driven on to the freeway and we’re starting to shoot bullets, rubber bullets or gas us. That’s what my initial reaction was. And then as soon as her book was gone, the semi was there. I was on my back in like the crab, crab crawl kind of position, and my legs slipped and I was just in the middle. And it was like it’s coming dead on. If I roll to one side, there’s a tire if I roll to the other side there’s a tire. And so I just kind of like laid back a little bit more cuz I’m like the only chance I have if I do this like a train and go under. But he swerved just enough and I rolled and there’s actually a footage that I found today with someone who like got literally how close I was I like just was able to roll. So I laugh now because it was like right there.
Curt Carstensen 13:48
It was hard to tell. This moment happened. You didn’t get hit and then a bunch of people rush towards the semi tractor. Did anyone rush to You?
Meghan Swanson 14:00
Yes, that was another part is like I couldn’t believe it. I kind of was struggling to get to my feet because I was just like out of breath. I just took a breath right out of me. And this one big black guy, like, put his arm out. And I grabbed it. And he yanked me behind them and into the people like away from the truck. You like you good? Yeah. And you can actually see me in the footage from the MNDot cam, or whatever. You can see me kind of walking through the crowd, just like real slowly for like a couple seconds, because I was just like, and I turned around and I just stared up, because I couldn’t see him. He was on the truck. He was the one I believe that opened the passenger side door. And I knew he couldn’t hear me but I was just like, thank you. And then I’ve decided to go back up to the truck and take a Picture like where it was. And I got the license plate number because I was like, if this was intentional, I want to be able to press charges. I want to, I don’t know, I don’t know what I want to do with this yet, but I want information I want to be prepared.
Curt Carstensen 15:15
So now knowing more information in the sense, even though in the moment, you feel like someone’s trying to attack you, with the information coming out that it likely was totally unintentional and just a really tough spot he found himself in and reacted, maybe other people would have reacted better and put people even less at risk when they came across that moment.
Meghan Swanson 15:37
There. I’ve actually been reading some information that truck drivers or people with big rigs have experience like he handled the stopping actually pretty well because he could attack my he could have slowed down his trailer could have swung wide like he could have rolled that definitely would have killed so many people because it was a tanker Carrying gas to a gas station, at least that’s what I’ve read. So there was fluid leaking out of his rig. People, my friend who got separated for me she got pulled to one end of the bridge more towards the median and I got kicked out towards the side with the grass and everything. But she, when we connected after when we were finally able to find each other at our friend’s apartment, like she just broke down and she was like, I’m so sorry for leaving you. I’m so sorry. And I was like, No, you did exactly what you needed to but she was like people were saying they were going to pull up the bridge like if it was unintentional, like gas rig that got driven out there that they were going to blow it up that they were that he was spraying people with gasoline which was not true, but I’m thinking there was some damage to his truck. He ran over bikes. People are throwing their bikes in front of him to get them to stop moving. But there was fluidly leaking from his truck and She was told to run because they’re going to blow up the bridge so like, of course you needed to leave. I would have been mad ahead you say
Curt Carstensen 17:09
it we, we think about what we would have done being him but of course most of us have not driven a truck down the freeway before and the thing that’s odd is okay slam on the brakes but I hadn’t considered until now slamming on the brakes that they
Meghan Swanson 17:25
won’t stop like our car note.
Curt Carstensen 17:27
And it takes
Meghan Swanson 17:28
that’s why you need to give you can’t cut some eyes off because they will win and they cannot stop they need like 500 feet or something to like slow down. So he was trying I sincerely think he was trying to I don’t know what his intentions were if he sat out and had a change of heart or something but he did try to stop
Curt Carstensen 17:52
which seeing seemed seeing the video of well in the moment that the truck was barreling down towards everyone and you most specifically, everyone has a reaction of Get out of the way. But that video of what happens, right, when people realize that they weren’t going to get hit, and then people turn around and do different things react differently. That’s such a great micro level of how we react differently to situations. Some people right, some people, the ones that went to fight went and attack the vehicle in different ways. Some trying to get to him, but then there’s other people that went there and stopped others from beating them up too badly. Yeah, which is a whole other now obviously no more beautiful thing. Like if he really wasn’t intending to hurt we wouldn’t even notice what if they would some people would have beat them up and they went to known anything.
Meghan Swanson 18:50
Oh, people were calling like, I’ve been watching all the videos from a different perspective. You’re hearing people beat his ass. Like kill him like loud Blah blah, like all these things, and that’s mob mentality. I think that if you aren’t able to hold yourself together or think clearly you shouldn’t be in a situation where you could potentially need to face life or death decisions and or consequences, but I think people just reacted they’re definitely people that are trying to be heroes trying to be saviors. And I mean that not like trying to be their general, genuinely where people they’re like, common people are having heart like panic attacks like major panic attacks. I saw an ER doctor get down and like, this one girl is just shaking and spasming like she couldn’t control herself. And he was like, I’m an ER doc, please. No, I’m like, back away. And I was like, he’s got this under control. I can move on. There was this old lady who was wrapped in this American flag just crying like why did this happen? I was asking her if she’s okay. But like, I was trying to find my friend’s phone cuz I went back out into the highway or the freeway when he moved down because I saw her phone. And I found my sign too that I had made and he had run over my sign.
Curt Carstensen 20:17
What did your sign say?
Meghan Swanson 20:20
No justice, no peace. And I firmly believe in that.
Curt Carstensen 20:27
That was Sunday. We’re speaking Tuesday. This will begin to be viewed or listened to soon. And I’m wondering as we move forward, but also looking back What else? What else have you been involved with? What’s your mentality moving forward? And why what inspires you and drives you to, to be a part of this cause and movement and put yourself your life at risk, apparently, which maybe you didn’t realize? Or maybe everyone kind of knows that you could be entering a dangerous situation.
Meghan Swanson 20:59
We I don’t think you can not help but know that, especially in a climate like this, in a moment, it can turn deadly can turn insane. It can change an instant. Going down there, my friend actually picked me up. And we were discussing that going down and we were talking to a friend on the phone and he was like, I don’t think you’ve actually been going, this is stupid, like you don’t have. You don’t really you shouldn’t be there. You don’t have a place there. And I was like, That’s messed up to say, because this is something like we both firmly believe in. We have co workers, family members like friends, lovers, children, you know, we have people that we love, and that are generally afraid day to day to do basic things that we don’t even think of and they’re hurting and we want to go down there and we want to show support solidarity. This is a statement. Love. This is something you don’t stand by the murder, obviously. So it’s like, we should be there. And he’s like, It’s dangerous. And we’re like we, we know what’s happening with the risk we’re taking. But I would 100% do it again. And I was going to go out there today, actually, but my knee got kind of messed up. I didn’t feel it that day, but that’s pretty swollen. It’s black and blue and kind of picked up. So I was like, I want to go back to work. I kind of just want to ice it for a day or two. But I feel really bad actually, that I can’t go out there again today. But I am actually thinking about going tomorrow. And we got people out there doing good things. It’s so beautiful. It’s so peaceful. It’s so powerful to see It’s amazing. It’s amazing.
Curt Carstensen 23:03
Had you been out there before Sunday?
Meghan Swanson 23:06
No, I just actually got back from Texas, a Saturday afternoon. So I slept all day Saturday. And then I got up in the morning and I had people messaging me. Hey, now that you’re back in Minnesota, are you coming down? I’m like, absolutely. And my friend called me like, All right, I’m coming by and picking you up, and we’re going. So it was my first day back in Minnesota. We’d been following this in Texas. For days having discussions with the people’s house that we were staying at, like, we were ready, we were ready for what we are going into and we were prepared mentally like this is for the people we love. And Enough is enough.
Curt Carstensen 23:50
One slightly unrelated thought that comes to mind. But is obviously kind of the underlying thing here is we’re in the middle of a pandemic, mostly places have been letting or loosening up the more strict rules that people have been having. Texas was a few weeks out of Minnesota with that. Maybe that’s why you were there. I don’t know. But what at least on Sunday, how careful were people being in general where it was almost everyone who weren’t married a man wearing a mask? No, or people trying to avoid touching each other mostly?
Meghan Swanson 24:25
I think I saw maybe like five people without a mask. Everyone had masks or a bandana or something over their face. There were people lined up on the streets with hand sanitizer. Like ever, like people were stopping it was people weren’t like touching. Yes, we were in close proximity. But I think as a intelligent adults, or even an intelligent child like you know, COVID is still here. Keep your Keep your space but yeah, no one was like touching or hugging or holding hands really like people were linking arms. But everyone had masks. I think we’re never going to be rid of the Coronavirus. That’s just it’s now in our vernacular. states are reopening. We can’t being realistic. We can’t avoid crowds forever. And this was a cause that I felt, if I’m going to get sick for this, I will get sick for this. I will isolate then. But I think everyone was just like we’re taking this risk because this is something that needs to be risks for.
Curt Carstensen 25:42
And we’re seeing that all over the country and, and several major cities around the world. I’ve noticed huge gatherings in support of this cause to what seems so simple. Police officers don’t kill people. Don’t need to be killed. I mean, not that anyone needs to be killed. But let’s at least start with the situations where that person didn’t need to die at the hands of police. That’s I
Meghan Swanson 26:12
was George Floyd that was a conscious effort or conscious decision that was made. He knew how long he’d been dealing. He knew where he was kneeling. Those cops knew what he was doing. Apparently, there was one who said like or express concern, but honestly, really, what’s getting me angry is the police brutality. That is just excessive, and it’s horrific. And people are dying unnecessarily. As you said…I’m sorry, I just get distracted.
Curt Carstensen 26:48
Yeah, it’s a it’s a cause that people have been fighting for for a while. And I’ve been going through a wide range of motion. As I think a lot of people do, maybe it’s it’s heavy on the sadness or anger or fear, or a lot of like negative emotions that we feel but the one that’s creeeped up a few times that I like, is the excitement that something is happening now. That could actually lead to a huge positive change. That’s, that’s why people are gathering together because they believe not only that we need we need to change and I feel a sense of excitement that maybe it actually could happen from this this time.
Meghan Swanson 27:36
fingers are crossed. I mean, what was it six days after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, the civil I hate to get the words wrong, but like my mind is racing, civil rights act or something like was finally passed. Like it took an act of extreme violence, and which I’m not condoning But like, Malcolm X got results by writing because the system wasn’t listening. I, I’m I was excited when the third precinct burned down. Sorry to say it, not sorry to say it. But it needed to happen. People need to be heard. We’re sick of this justice is not being served. You’re arresting thousands of protesters who are protesting the simple fact that you didn’t arrest for police officers who are responsible for a man’s murder for trying to pass off a $20 bill that I mean, you know, where we work. So, I mean, that those things happen to those people deserve to die. No.
Curt Carstensen 28:44
No, it’s I’ve written some blog posts lately, one of them I turned into a short bonus episode of my podcast, and it’s really about things escalating or de escalating and people having compassion for others or not. And again, going back to the incident from Sunday that that led to this conversation today with us. When emotions are running high, people do react very differently. It’s that when people with authority, whatever the reaction is why, why they have that reaction if they’re in authority, and their reaction is to make things worse than they would need to be. And people end up dying because police officers, and they have a tough job. Everyone says, of course they do.
Meghan Swanson 29:38
And no one is denying that
Curt Carstensen 29:39
not every police officer would kill all the people that have been killed by police officers, some would find another way to deal with that. And I suppose it’s possible that in some of those cases, the police officer ends up injured or kill
Meghan Swanson 29:55
Curt Carstensen 29:55
so it’s very difficult situation but What gets lost in this, I think is that there’s a percentage of people that are just like, this is what it is. And no, we need to find a way to be better at everything we can’t just be accept what is is, this is the life that we’re going to exist in. No people want better. And let’s do what we can to make it better. And that’s why this is going on.
Meghan Swanson 30:23
Mm hm. I was seeing so many different signs. Throughout the March, it was like Asian silence equals Asian consent. White silence equals white consent, like we need to use our voices and yes, our privilege to like, draw attention to the in justices that other people are facing, because our silence is allowing for that to continue. You can disagree all you want, but if you remain silent, you’re part of the problem. And I would just like to say, again, when you say people react differently Yeah, those protesters that jumped in front of that truck driver, were amazing human beings. I just saw a video today on Facebook about protesters jumping in front of a mob that was about to lose a target. And they all like linked arms and was like, we’re not going to be a part of this. The people on the loudspeakers are saying we’re going to be peaceful, there will be absolutely nothing like you will be shamed out of here. We don’t want it. There are people here infiltrating us trying to sow discord and chaos, and anarchy. But if you stay strong and peaceful, those people will be dealt with. And our message will remain clear. And so those people that stepped up, were amazing. to segue a little bit sorry. Back to the police brutality that those protesters who had blocked The truck driver, really they were trying to escort him to the squad cars when the squad cars came onto the bridge. And they this. They maced them all they didn’t take a second to think like are these people helping the situation? Or is this going to create a scene if I do this, they just straight in May stub everyone and I’m so sick of police acting, and then thinking rather than thinking and acting, I watched another Facebook video on Facebook today. This artist created he said it takes more training hours to become a hairstylist than it does to become a police officer. And he asked the question, why does it take more hours to train with a curling iron than it does to train with a little loaded gun Police need to be retrained to de escalate situations. Plain and simple because what I saw on the bridge is they weren’t coming to serve and protect us at a peaceful protest that they had designated for us to be there. They swarmed the bridge and they started missing people. It was all it was so peaceful to after the truck driver got on the road and into the squad car. People will just milling about coming to terms they weren’t no one was being chaotic. No one was being disturbing the peace no one was doing anything. We were all just kind of like traumatized and wandering around. And then the cops just formed these ranks and I have video I have a picture of them just forming ranks and like marching down systematically in the bridge and like, why would they do that? Why would they escalate that situation to essentially almost a point of Riot because then people started throwing bottles at them screaming at the police, all of these things, and then they started shooting rubber bullets. And that’s when I was just like, I need to find my friend. I have a phone. It’s just too chaotic right now.
Curt Carstensen 34:30
escalating and de escalating. Those really are the two words and there’s, there’s people that are good at recognizing, either maybe they’re like me and I don’t like confrontation. So I try to find ways to de escalate. But if someone that’s in law enforcement seems to like confrontation, and they have the power and the authority in those situations, so in confrontation, they’re they’re in a different situation than the person they’re dealing with us usually. But if they use their power and authority, whether with the weapons they have to, I think, probably use him because that’s their de escalation method, but it’s an escalating method. Mm hmm. People being shot at by anything, aren’t going to like that. Yeah, you might get them to do something and get control for the time being probably. But that doesn’t end anything that just that makes that moment in time. Maybe less dangerous for the police for a few seconds, but then it’s just the constant reaction of getting worse and worse and worse and worse. Mm hmm. Why don’t the people that are in charge that understand that aspect, there’s probably many reasons why they think that is the best way to go. And I’d be happy to have a conversation with someone explaining why they think precisely that’s what they have to do. I don’t buy it. There has to be a better way. Maybe that was once the best way they came up with the deal a situation. It doesn’t mean it’s still the best way.
Meghan Swanson 35:57
Mm hmm. Try it. improvement is not always effective. People need to change. People have changed, society has changed, technology has changed. You can’t tell me that there aren’t other ways to handle things. When they’re just everything is so different. You can’t tell me that reacting can’t be different too.
Curt Carstensen 36:24
And everything’s gonna keep on being different before we started recording, I described something that was different as weird. And your reaction to me using the word weird was different than anyone else I’d heard. So let’s let’s bring that topic back. Why when describing the fact that things that are right now in Minnesota, especially in in many places are very different than they were when I describe some of these changes as weird. Why didn’t you like me using that word?
Meghan Swanson 36:54
Because I think what you would consider weird or what most people Nowadays we consider weird as in like, staying at home. Not going out on a Saturday night for a drink, or these riots that are happening. people wearing masks, it’s not weird anymore. That’s the new normal. We have to just accept that this is what it is. Masks are going to become a part of the accessories that everyone has like just putting on a watch before you go to work or putting on a scarf. You want to match it with your mask. going out to a movie and having chairs in between like you and the next person empty. That’s gonna seem weird, but it’s now actually what it’s gonna be. So weird is not normal, and I’m all for it.
Curt Carstensen 37:50
That’s true. We can only assess things with our experience in the time that we’ve, we’ve been exposed to them. But I’d imagine everything that is normal for us. was once weird to people when it was new. Absolutely. things always are changing.
Meghan Swanson 38:04
Curt Carstensen 38:05
Right now we’re in a time of a lot of things changing very fast, which I think gives us greater sensation of weirdness because everything’s so different than it was. But even after a couple days, I kind of get used to it. I got it, this is what we’re doing.
Meghan Swanson 38:18
Yep. And if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that embrace the weird because nothing is off the top. Nothing is off the table.
Curt Carstensen 38:28
I have a couple topics left Megan. And one of them we are we’re colleagues. And so I’ve known you for a year, two years, I don’t even know I lose track. But what I like to bring on my podcast is how the person I’m talking to the person that I know has inspired me or change my mind in some way. And I guess with you because we don’t know each other. Super well, although we’ve interacted quite a bit. The thing about you that I appreciate so much, and really, I think brings out the best in me, is that when I interact with you in the workplace, I guess anywhere that maybe I would see you, you have this positive attitude and energy that I’m very capable of. But if I’m not around it, usually just not there. But when I’m around you, it comes out almost all the time, right? Maybe all the time because you seem to have it and then it makes me feel better because then I can be that positive person that I’m very capable of being. So you make me better when I’m around you because of observing just your mentality to just the moment in time it seems so positive so often.
Meghan Swanson 39:37
Mm hmm. Um, I hear that a lot. I don’t consider myself an overly positive person. I consider myself a pessimistic optimist, if anything, but I’ve always just had that mentality of like a smile can make someone’s day Because a small act of kindness anything, even if it’s just like a, Hey, hi. Happy makes someone happy. Like if you’re going through it doesn’t mean that someone else has to go through it to, you know, even change you want to see in the world.
Curt Carstensen 40:15
It’s funny that you say that I have a shirt that says that that I thought about wearing today I really, but if you’d have said that I was wearing I wouldn’t have known that you just you just had that come to your mind.
Meghan Swanson 40:25
Mm hmm. I’m, it’s so cliche, but it’s it rings so true. You know. And that’s really all it stems from. It’s very simple,
Curt Carstensen 40:35
in that, I suppose is why we are talking and it’s why I have a podcast I want to take what I’ve learned people I’ve learned from put it back into the world hoping that the positive things that I’ve come across, get disseminated further and more people can can learn from people that I’ve learned from. And here we are, as I’ve been thinking about who to ask on my podcasts. Even leading up to now before I realized the situation experience that you went through, I’ve been thinking about the the either the non white people or more specifically the black people in my life that I know that come from different backgrounds and, and have some have been very involved in all this been going on the past week. And I probably will have conversations with some of those people in the future. But then I’m talking with you right now, the first person I’ve had as a guest since this all happened and began to happen a week ago and we’re both white people. But it’s that that mentality for positive change, and wanting better that I think brings me to this conversation and also knowing people from all over the world in different backgrounds, all different colors and races and liking people from every group I’ve ever met. I’m not saying I’d like everyone, but it’s not not liking them because of their race. There’s why People I don’t like either. I like good people. And when good people are being harmed by a system, I’m fighting for them. If if there are bad people being harmed by a system, I don’t care, I want to help the good people being harmed.
Meghan Swanson 42:12
Justice for All, you know, and justice should mean justice. If you are a bad person doing bad things, you should be able to be treated fairly and face justice. Like if you are a good person doing bad things, or a good person doing good things, like everyone is just it’s just us doing what we can and we should be facing justice. As you were saying, like, you know, people you love people, that’s kind of where I’m coming from to. That’s why I was there on the bridge. I mean, I have a two year old daughter, she’s half black, half white. Like this is not My fight but it is my fight because I see what’s happening and I have an obligation to step up, because I will not let this be a world that she grows up in that hates her. That’s a danger to her. Like, I want better for her. I want better for my friends, my family. And I spoke with my parents, they weren’t too happy that I was there. They’re the ones that are saying like, this isn’t your fight, you shouldn’t be there. And I just said, How can you say that? This is exactly where I belong.
Curt Carstensen 43:41
I want to step back from when I said bad people because I actually don’t believe that. I don’t. I’m not convinced that there’s bad people. I’m convinced that people get attached to bad ideas. And people have negative experiences that cause their reactions in the future to different situations to to appear negative, I don’t think people are inherently bad. I think we all come from different backgrounds and some of those backgrounds lead to people
Meghan Swanson 44:08
Nurther over nature.
Curt Carstensen 44:10
That I think there’s there’s there’s genetics, there’s DNA, and there’s experience and the human brain and causes us to all feel different things and act different ways in such situations, and I’m nowhere near perfect. My reactions in the heat of emotion sometimes are not as pleasant as I wish they were when I look back at it, people are going to act poorly sometimes. And that that’s a reality. We need to minimize the harm that’s caused when people are in situations where they they react so poorly and recognize that they’re not bad people. We’re not bad people. They’re not bad people.
Meghan Swanson 44:47
Bad things have happened
Curt Carstensen 44:49
bad behavior based on either bad ideas or bad experiences in the past, and we need to look for positive and make the world better for everyone. That’s what This movements about that’s why we’re talking. That’s why coincidentally You damn near died. You didn’t and obviously, you’re the you’re a survivor, you can tell your story and now be a greater positive change on people that that hear from you.
Meghan Swanson 45:15
That’s what I’m hoping for. I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me. I’ve had a lot of friends reach out to me say we see you. Thank you. I’m like, I wasn’t out there trying to be a martyr. I was just trying to out there trying to be a voice to add to others to this movement. I don’t. Yeah. And as you were actually, sorry, segwaying that you were saying you might have some black acquaintances or people you know, on your podcast. I was actually having one of my friends called me and he expressed concern about what happened and he told me that like Workers cuz he was out on the bridge too. But he actually left like three or four minutes before the summit came through. And he’s had coworkers reach out to him, ask him how he’s doing. And he’s like, now you guys want to talk to me. Now I will keep this professional. We’ll keep this at work, but like, I’m not ready to have a conversation with you right now. He’s just angry. And I’ve heard that sentiment echoed by quite a few people. It’s just like, this is our time now, but like, we’re angry, we’re hurt. We don’t want to talk. We just want to we just want action kind of thing. So a lot of people are feeling a lot of different ways about all of this.
Curt Carstensen 46:47
Yeah, it’s it’s a time for more conversations, different conversations. But
Meghan Swanson 46:56
it’s time to be respectful
Curt Carstensen 46:58
and respectful. But I guess my encouragement to anyone, no matter their background, or point of view is let’s have these tough conversations and have them in a way where we’re very respectful and we listen. Because even people with bad ideas, they, they bought into them for a reason. And maybe it’s not a bad reason that led them to a bad idea. And if we can really understand and hear people, and they can really understand and hear us, then you can actually get to the point where the emotions Calm down, and you can feel like okay, I don’t dislike this other person that disagrees with me. Maybe I can take a little piece of what they’re saying and adopt it to my own reality, which then I think in the end, improves ideas and it gets better ideas spread a better message, more comprehensive, worldly perspective on what people go through and brings us closer to being One human race and less emphasis on what makes us or appears to make us different.
Meghan Swanson 48:06
Amen. Amen. And you don’t necessarily have to understand everyone’s perspectives, but you can empathize exactly what you said. I mean, you can understand that you don’t understand, but still maintain neutrality, respectfulness, and emphasize and change your mind on some things.
Curt Carstensen 48:33
I love changing my mind. That’s what this podcast about what that’s what I guess I typically have two segments that I end with what they’re about, but I’m gonna go with one of them today. But you can incorporate the changing your mind into this. It’s my personal growth segment. Megan, can you tell me a powerful story from your life that you recognize you’ve grown because of what you’re going to explain? And you think maybe some people haven’t realized yet?
Meghan Swanson 49:01
I would say the one that just popped into my head was when I was in college. I was at a Walmart, and I was trying to find something and I saw a Walmart employee, I went up and I said, Excuse me. And I got no response from her. And I was like, excuse me, no response. And so I tapped her on her shoulder. And she turned around, and she looked at me and immediately went, I’m like, I’m so sorry. She was deaf. And just her look of apologetic myth on her face. It Like It moves something in my heart. And I looked at girls like, no, it’s fine. It’s fine. And that next day, I was actually signing up for classes. And I saw that, River Falls was offering a sign language class. And so I took that sign language class, because I was like, it’s not her fault. She’s deaf. And it’s not her fault. She can’t communicate to me what I want and it’s it’s my fault for not knowing how to Communicate with her. So I’ve kind of adapted that mentality to all aspects of my life. And the conversations that I have. It’s not your fault, you’re black, it’s not your fault, your death. It’s not your fault. You were born with this. I don’t want to say disability, but it’s not your fault. You are a certain type of way, you know. And it’s up to us to kind of try to find ways to bridge those differences. Me that was taking an ASL class. And we’ve had guests come into our establishment. And were deaf and I was able to communicate it with it. And it’s just like the look of satisfaction and just appreciation on their faces. Everyone should be doing this, everyone. There’s so many conversations out in the world, that we’re only hindering ourselves because we don’t want to learn. And so I took that away from that and I love it.
Curt Carstensen 51:02
That’s a really powerful story. And I think it goes to show that. So commonly we have expectations that other people do something a certain way. Because doesn’t everybody shouldn’t everybody see it this way? Do you think this way? Shouldn’t everybody be able to respond to me when I talk to them, but clearly, there are reasons why people can’t do what we expect all the time. And for us to be mad at them, for not living up to our expectations that’s on us. And there’s probably things in this conversation where we have expectations of others in a certain way that on us for may be expecting too much out of people. I believe that but it’s when you hear about situations where people have challenges and it’s difficult. It doesn’t mean that we just we stopped getting better. So it goes back to the point of we can improve. Maybe I’m expecting too much of a police officer at this day in history 2020 but by Two days from now, two weeks from now, two years from now, whenever people need to get better at these things that are causing problems.
Meghan Swanson 52:05
Yep, absolutely. Absolutely. We can make the changes,
Curt Carstensen 52:12
we can’t we have to otherwise, we’re gonna be dealing with stuff that is gonna make a lot of people uncomfortable for a long time and I mean, uncomfortable, okay, once we get to being uncomfortable, then we can break through that and find a way to, to improve things is how we grow. Thank you, Megan. Appreciate the conversation. And I’m so glad you’re okay. And then you can share your story. And I look forward to seeing you before too long in person.
Meghan Swanson 52:38
All right. Thank you for having me.