Sometimes people suck. Sometimes you wish a zombie apocalypse would just come and wipe out the idiots, the bigots, the hypocrites, the lazy, the mean...But sometimes you see something so good in humanity it takes your breath away and stays with you for days, enveloping you in the glory of goodness.
Claire and I were in the middle of rural Virginia. We were low on gas so we stopped at this little station. A pump was open, but the car on the opposite side was parked nearly in the middle of the lane. I tried hard to not get irritated that someone would be so inconsiderate and make it nearly impossible for another car to fit, but as I was pulling in the man who owned the car came over and said, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I'll get out of the way so you can fit." "No worries," I told him and went on to fill up the car with much-needed gas.
While I was standing there soaking up the glow of courtesy and manners another even more amazing thing was taking place on one of the other gas lanes. As an aside, before I get into the meat of this story I want to just say how infrequently I do this. I very rarely delve into a potentially political piece. I try hard to keep my blog to my thoughts about raising my family, love and sappy stuff. But is too good not to share. Keep in mind, too, that these are my thoughts and opinions and this might get a little messy as I traverse things like race, stereotypes and labeling people. Trust me, I'm not judging, just painting a picture.
Now, onto the meat...
Her shiny silver hair glinted in the sun. She kept tugging the waist band of her saggy, washed-out jeans up as she paced and crawled in and out of her old, beat up Toyota Prius. She looked exactly like I would imagine hippy turned grandmother would. The hood of her car was open and three men crowded around the engine block. The man who apologized and moved his car for me was there, hunkered down over the engine. He was a short, stocky African-American man with wiry black hair and dark brown skin. He was immersed in trying to figure out the problem. The man to his right looked to be of Middle Eastern descent. He was tall and lean with black hair, and light brown skin, heavy eyebrows and dark, piercing, hooded eyes. He stood to side, as if not quite sure what to do, but wanting very much to help. The third man...well, he was a white guy. Full beard, greasy hands being repeatedly wiped on an even greasier rag. His baseball hat was pulled down low, the brim was well worn from years of use. He looked like Zach looked after his summer away from VMI...as country and red-neck-y as can be. And in that instant of watching these four people who couldn't look anymore different from one another, I fell in love. In love with them. More in love with America. And totally in love with humanity.
To me, that little snapshot represents who are. That story represents America. The stories we're hearing in the news are awful and horrific and heartbreakingly sad. Rallies where people are voicing their opinions should never cause someone, anyone, to run over another human being. Ever. And in no way, shape or form am I trying to down-play the significance of these news stories, but rather I'd like to refocus us. We are given so many freedoms in this country. We are given so much. It's time to stop the madness. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. This is America. The land that I love.
My wish is that we would stop tuning into these news stories on a 24-7 basis and start watching humanity around us. Perhaps my wish is Pollyana-ish and naive. But maybe it's not. Maybe if we weren't so focused on the media we wouldn't see as much negativity, instead we might see some good old-fashioned greatness in our fellow human beings. Maybe then we'd remember that we're all made up of the same stuff. Blood and bones turned into hearts and love. We all seek the same thing from this life...to love and be loved. Look around there's so much of it out there. So take some time off from the news and go find it.
Love...from the middle of rural Virginia. It's what the world needs more of.
Stop. Just love.
PS. I hesititated greatly over posting this, but yesterday when I stumbled across the giant LOVE in the middle of rural America, I knew it was a sign.