When the gusty winds blow and shake our lives, if we know that people care about us, we may bend with the wind...but we won’t break.” - Fred Rogers
I try very hard to believe this. Some days are better than others.
It seems odd and so unfriendly, because most of the time walkers approaching head on greet each other with a "good morning!" or a smile. Now it's usually a "thanks!" said through a mask if anything is said at all. But people understand.
I was reminded of something my friend Mike Lewis said long ago, during those golden days when we worked at WKAR.
I have written about Mike here on the Marmelade Gypsy in the past. We worked together for decades until his untimely death in January 2014. He was the first to make funny birthday posters or videos for his friends. He had enormous comic book and video collections in a house that would make Marie Kondo cringe and he was a generous lending library to anyone who wanted DVDs for the weekend. No fee, no fine, and if you liked it a lot, don't worry about giving it back. He was one of the kindest people I have ever known, a gentle giant in a hard world.
|One of the posters that Mike made for my retirement book.|
With Mike you could talk about more than movies and media. Our conversations would often cross into heavy topics. I will always remember the conversation when Mike said, "When I walk down the street by myself in the evening, people cross to the other side."
You see, Mike was African American. He was large. And people who saw him coming their way thought he might be scary and dangerous. And yes, you get used to it. And yes, it still hurts.
I would like to believe that we have long passed the time when we must cross the road to avoid someone or something that scares us.
I would like to believe that the way someone looks should affect the impression we have of that person before we have even said hello.
I would like to believe we live in a world where battles fought centuries ago, then decades ago, aren't still being fought.
I would like to believe that all law enforcement officials don't use unnecessary force or shooting to kill unless absolutely essential and that in any case possible they will listen to those they are apprehending.
I would like to believe that we could all feel safe when we support what we believe through the freedom of speech and peaceful demonstration without fear of being brutalized by rubber bullets, tear gas and low flying helicopters.
I don't believe in looting and destroying property but I do believe in standing up and if standing up is taking a knee, then I believe in that, too.
Our country -- no, our world -- is going through tough times these days. A deadly virus may ease up but will not go away. So many are unemployed, facing challenges they never imagined. There is racism and xenophobia throughout the world. And that's when it gets tricky.
We are living with a heavy collective grief. At most, it is for the loss of someone we know and cared about who has died. At its least, it is grief for a loss of a way of life that seemed so commonplace and ordinary, and yet was so special.
I grieve for the loss of the healing power of touch and hugs.
And I grieve for our country and how it has justifiably lost respect and become the laughing stock of the rest of the world. I grieve for a world that is facing many of the same challenges that we are. Will it ever end?
And I grieve for all whose lives have been turned into a frightening daily nightmare by a systemic racism that we cannot seem to conquer.
I grieve for my friend Mike and wonder what he would have to say about all this.
I know it would be profound.