Sunday, June 7, 2015

Smiles

Cranking away on the pedals, I whisked my way to the gym one last time before going on vacation. Any Way You Want It is jamming on my headset as I pass the decrepit convenience store down the road a bit from my house. Out front are about 20 assorted aged folks hanging out front. Seems like they're having fun. I'd love to stop if I wasn't getting up so early.....I wonder if they would feel uncomfortable though if I stopped. If you haven't figured it out yet, they were all black and I am about as white as you can get not to mention having a road flare as hair. Now before anyone blows a gasket, I'm not saying black folks are hateful people. It's kind of like your brother-in-law not wanting to party with you strictly because you are married to his sister who's a prude. The group I passed might not have a problem with me but I'm unfortunately linked to the bad guy by appearance. 

What if perchance they hated me just because of my skin? That's what many minorities have felt like...I let that sink in, what that would feel like, to be on the other side of the fence. What if I was chased down and beaten to death? Fear hit and I didn't brush it aside. Instead I let it sit there and grow till I could feel what that terror would be like. 

My heart felt way heavier as I passed the next mile thinking about how sad humanity is. A lot of people want things to change but it's like trying to get a boulder rolling: it takes an exhausting length of time to get any momentum. As I turned down a side street to avoid a stop light, American Pie came on and I saw some people walking up ahead. If I am not going too fast I'll usually say "hi" or at least nod and smile to people I pass. This time two adorable little girls beat me to the punch. They both waved while flashing grins only a kid without a care in the world can pull off. "Hi sir" they chimed. I replied with a big smile of my own and greeted them as I passed by. 

The fact that both children had much darker skin than mine was irrelevant to the smile the interaction had left on my face as continued on. But then again it wasn't, considering the thoughts I had a few minutes back, and the smiles and hellos spoke volumes. They said "I value you as a fellow human being and am happy to see you". We don't do that enough in general but particularly to those who look different than us. 

Droves of people will claim "I'm the least racist person ever" but and if you are one of them - do you greet people who look different than you? If you do what are you conveying? Politeness and obligation? Discomfort? Or happiness to encounter another human? Most people as at least somewhat misanthropic so I understand - you might just be an asshole, but those who actually care, think about if you convey that care throughout the day to those you meet. 

One of the easiest ways to start healing humanity might be by giving genuine smiles. People can tell when you are bullshitting them so don't try to fake it just so you can feel like you aren't a dick. 

A couple kids taught me a valuable lesson with nothing more than a smile and a couple words. It's never so much the actions, but what's behind them that matters. They weren't even my kids and I was damn proud of them. I thanked them in my head and thought I was getting emotional but realized it was probably just the wind whipping past my eyes making them water. 

"Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?...."

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