Two chairs facing. Have a seat.
“All I see is people saying…. If you believe this, delete me or block me, if you feel this way, delete me or block me, if you support that, delete me or block me, if you don’t think like me delete me or block me…..Do you see the problem yet???? Your making further division, what about hey we don’t agree but let’s be friends and talk about it, or we don’t agree but I love you anyway. ALL of you saying delete / block me if, YOUR part of the problem!!!!!! We’re never all going to agree, we can try to understand and come together NOT delete / block me if. How is that helping to bring anyone together? Seriously y’all need to have a sit and THINK about it. But hey keep falling into exactly what they want us to do, divide. I love yin’s all but those of you saying this crap, take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself are you really doing anything to help our communities come together? Or are you adding to the division by the “if you don’t agree delete / block me”.. my early morning thoughts anyway.” – R. E., Facebook 5/4/2020
These words found their way on my Facebook feed early yesterday morning. I found myself stopping my usual quick scan of the silent, predictable political divisiveness … disguised as sharing, caring thoughts … when suddenly coming across the paragraph posted above. My comment to R.E was a simple, “I love this …” followed by a private message asking permission to use it. She obliged with very kind allowances in the course of a pleasant early morning private message lasting a few minutes.
You see, we communicated as adults in a virtual room – learning about one another. Two strangers with, unknown to us, commonalities heretofore undiscovered. We have a common friend. We share a common interest in a musical instrument. I must say, without knowing her beyond the few minutes of black letters in a tiny little white dialogue box, both of us displayed above average intelligence and social skills, are/were in the food business (I think), and have a unique ability to adapt and change if necessary. Oh, and we’re probably crazy humble and proud of it as well … but, I digress.
So, two unfamiliars … now, familiars. Since this is now the case, I can call her Rachel. Rachel is her name. Nice to meet you, Rachel. I love your words.
A few years ago, I sat in a local Taco Bell sharing stories with a friend. A black friend who I never see as black. It is so uncomfortable for me to even type that word, “black”, because I never, ever see him as such. For the purposes of this post, I must use the qualifier, however. He is a very successful friend who is wedded to a white (geesh, do I really have to keep using these words) woman. They are such a nice couple. He’s seen true tragedy. His bullied junior high-aged son committed suicide four years ago and my conversation touched a bit on that sad occurrence.
Mainly, our talk had to do with my concern surrounding a relative who pointed a bony finger at my supposed “white-privilege”. An upper-level advantage I was unaware I had until it was thrown on my pile of things about which to worry – I guess. Never considered the notion until then.
I asked J.P. for a meet-up (agreeing to buy a burrito in exchange for his time) to discuss if he ever saw the “white” thing in my life … and to discuss his perspective on being a black man in America.
I’m so glad I did. We cleared up my non-discriminatory thinking in a two-taco minute. I knew we would. Loving all races, creeds, colors, beliefs, life-styles, and genders is my motto and never would I ever find it in my heart to be mean to anyone. What followed, however, was one of the most fascinating conversations I’ve ever had.
He spoke of being asked to empty clean laundry on the sidewalk while walking home from the cleaners – for no reason other than being different. All this having to obey authority because the alternative was worse.
He spoke of having caution while in position of authority in administrative healthcare due to the fear of mistakes. One little slip-up could have jeopardized the future of another minority coming up through who sought after the same position.
We talked through experiences. I learned through listening. He is a highly educated man who experienced life on a completely different path than I. I suspect had we been born twins – imagine with me, of course – and pursued exactly the same career paths, his life and mine would have been very different based solely on the colors of our skin. That’s such a sad reality of the American experience.
Lest we judge, things are SO much better than they were. Even 20 years later, when J.P. was sauntering along the sidewalk, we still have pockets of problems, but I believe America is waking up.
Back to my good friend Rachel. Are you kinda seeing why I loved her post earlier? She’s right, ya’ know? If I would have blocked J.P. out of my life, so much conversational richness and vitality would have been gone … forever. I reached out and he willingly answered. We talked for over three hours.
Two guys – one black, one white – sharing a bunch of Mexican food … talking about life. We “had a sit” and filled each other’s life baskets with memorable words. Words that inspire me years later in our coronavirus, George Floyd obsessed, media-driven craziness known as America 2020.
Rachel is my new mini-hero this morning. She re-ignited my memories of J.P. and the importance of an adulting-dialogue between parties wanting to understand each other – and my overarching message to you: Don’t impulsively block/delete people … especially those you call friends … on Facebook or other social media sites. If you find their words irritating, reach out. Ask them what they mean. Maybe they just ate a bad burrito and have gas! You don’t know the movie they’re living. Don’t be so bold to assume you know their true, core issues until you talk with them. If you find them offensive, intolerable, and too quirky for your taste after reaching out, dump ’em. Until then …. be real.
To additionally qualify my admonition, a string of comments on Facebook does NOT qualify as a conversation. Most do this for shock value and reactionary-response, so to assume you are conversing with said friend is folly in its highest form.
Now, y’all need to have a sit … Mask up, go to an acceptable location if possible, or find a quiet little dialogue box like Rachel and I did yesterday morning. TALK and LISTEN to one another. Find common ground. Look for the 10% similarities to bridge the 90% variations in thinking. You’re not going to agree on everything, of course. If you do, RUN AWAY … FAST !! There’s no such reality as total agreement on the whole kit-and-ka-boodle.
In conclusion, be a Rachel … “take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself are you really doing anything to help our communities come together? Or are you adding to the division“
No truer words were typed on Facebook during recent days, in my crazy humble opinion. Oh, and I’m sure my new friend Rachel would so kindly agree.