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Our stories can be a catalyst for building bridges.
There is more to us than labels.
Riding on a train makes for people intimacy. When you first board, the person sitting across from you is a stranger. Then the soft hellos, eye contact, and you go back to reading your book and listening to music ... whatever. But, before long, one of you takes the time to say more than hi and ask you a question, or picks up something you've dropped. Today, I met Jeremiah, a 17-month old with his Mom. He finally let me hold him for a while and listened to the music with the other half of my ear phones. I also met Marcel who was riding with her granddaughter Jenny to Milwaukee who broke her hip and had a cane. We bonded over our mutual "walking" aid. Ate at one of the stops. She had to give up her house as it got too much and is living with one of her children. "Was it hard," I asked, "giving up your house?" "No, not that, but I liked living by myself." We grinned. I understand, but you could tell she loves her children and they are close.
And then there was Jerry who at the train station while waiting on the Amtrak bus, kept smiling at me. Now, I want you to know that we all live with our phobias, and Jerry is white, southern accent and beard (red). It wasn't that i was afraid. No, but uncomfortable a little. Why? I don't have all the answers, but it just seemed to me that I'd be the last person he'd engage with. Can anyone say, "prejudice?" I didn't quite understand his fascination with me, it seemed. Didn't see him much on the bus nor at the stop over in Nacodoches, but after I got on the train, he was walking by and asked, "You want me to get you a cup of coffee?" Actually, I had been contemplating navigating to the lounge for just that. I said "that would be great" and reached in my bag to get my wallet. "No need. I got you."
When he came back with my coffee, he said, "I like your computer and what it says. I'm with you." It took me about a minute ... what about my computer? I wondered and for a few minutes I tried to figure out what he meant until I realized what is on my computer.
There are 3 stickers:
The first is: FIGHTING HATE, TEACHING TOLERANCE, SEEKING JUSTICE
The second: I stand with immigrants.
The third: COEXIST.
You can't judge a book by its cover and you must live who you are every day, giving everyone a chance. This is why I hold to the standards I do. I'm not perfect and I recognize that I can be prejudiced and bigoted in my thoughts (lost of crap inside all of us--especially these days). Still, in the end, this journey is about finding ways to stand together. Today, Jerry and I did just that. By the way, he's Jerry, but his dad's name was Jeremiah. Irony? Coincidence? Jeremiah, the prophet rings true, crying for people to get their act together --- and on this day, the baby (is it a sign?) and generationally (Jerry's Dad) makes for a sign for LIFE, HOPE and TRUTH. We should try to get to know one another MORE. Thanks, Jerry. I got more than a cup of coffee tonight. I got the beginning of this journey to the MORE. It's about time. #thinkpeace #dittoexpress