SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 376: Down to the Wire

Day 376_L2R2103

First, to Damian (today’s stranger now friend) as well as to all of my 365 friends, please forgive me for not posting for several months. To be fully honest about it, the holidays, a rush of year-end business and some much needed time with my family. But with that caught up, I am jumping back into doing my part in our mission to build our community. Even readying for another one-year daily project, “O-365,” a 365 consecutive day stranger meeting blogumentary (here is a link the projects Indiegogo). Stay tuned.

I’ll never forget the time spent with new friend Damian, for over an hour he and I conversed regarding the widest range of topics: Culture, Politics, Religion and Race; all subjects that we are socially biased to not discuss. Not even with friends and family we are advised; and, whatever we do, never bring them up in business or casual dialogue. Sadly, and to a point, I agree. But with the acknowledgement of this, I do challenge us to not consider our outlooks towards our support groups, but to rather govern our reactions towards those who are living lives with altering ideologies.

Damian puts it rather bluntly, “Don’t throw a bunch of flowers in my face and call it a bouquet.”

Instead he suggests, “Ask families what they really feel about what is going on. Ask the minorities… what they really feel. If you do, you’ll get some real answers.”

In a way we are all minorities, trapped within the confines of our own minds, beliefs, and traditions. That’s OK. It’s what provides the blessing of wholly living this life experience. But unmanaged these brainwaves can also become a Pandora’s box of head discussions. Thoughts turned to actions as we project ourselves, and our agendas, onto others. You know, those nagging, this is my opinion, and that is theirs… with is conflicting resolutions. Resolves that at many times are troubling to our core selves. No I’m not advocating selfishness or harming others via self-justified atrocities. That would be a blind misrepresentation of the message Damian and I are proposing.

In Damian’s words, “If we infuse people with knowledge.  Educate ourselves on what is really going on in society and not what is glorified. Focusing on the glorified is a waste of our time… useless information.  If it does not effect or change your life beneficially, and you cannot use it… then what is the point?”

Education, a very soft topic for many, leads to a very sobering question: What is in store for our children and will they be prepared?

Damian is wise, “We have to stop the silly little facades that we put on our children… and our adults… and our families… facades that have never worked. Take the gatekeepers out of the game. Take the guys that stop progress out-of-the-way – The gatekeepers who always want to stop people before they themselves know the answers.

They need to stop trying to take religion out of school. I believe in diverse religion in school. Being able to praise God and being able to say I love you Lord. Waking up every day with a smile on your face.”

Over the course of Operation-365 we have met people of many faiths – from Christian to Jew, Muslim to Sikh, Atheist to Self-Appointed. In this, the majority has come forth with an astounding voice. Proclaiming a message to us all. That it is possible for a community of many faiths and points-of-view to exist in sharing a common set of principles. Being a universal appeal for a safe and good life for our children and the society ahead.

So I’ll admit, I’m bewildered at why far too many get terminally caught up in the fight for righteous correctness? Choosing, by arrogant and often uninformed decision, to completely miss the boat of compassion? An observation that has endlessly troubled me deeply; but what the heck, I’ll take a stab at finding a new perspective…

…Could it be found in the eyes of the children? The very ones that we… the learned adults… do all that we can to condition for what we predict is to come. Perhaps we are correct… perhaps we are way off base…

…But what if we turned the eyeglass for a brief reversal of role? What if we allowed the child consideration in teaching us, and if we did, could we model the way they behave (especially the very young?) towards one another. Might it be plausible that they have something to teach us… we… the adults… the wise ones?

My hope is that the answer is a resounding YES. That through their example may be discovered a set of keys to open our eyes in exactly how to look beyond our differences.

Day 376_L2R2099Damian challenges us, “We have to look and scrutinize each other and love one another as a whole… you know what I mean? This doesn’t work if we are constantly at each other throats about color, about income, about who has what… and who doesn’t have what. The thing is, in this society… the only thing that works is if we help each other. If we see each other as black and as white this whole mess is going to continue to be what it is. It’s never going to get any better. What matters is… what is important for our children and for the society we live in.

What I know is this,” he continues, “if we take the time to educate ourselves… Take the time to look in each others background, we’ll find the answer we are looking for.”

“So how do we accomplish this?” I ask

“Take personal responsibility… for yourself… for your kids… and for the environment that you live around,” Damian begins. It is impossible for me to ignore the love and passion for good that I see in his eyes… I listen.

“Always think before you talk… of what you do… because you affect other people. If you do what you say… the life you live… what you’ve chosen to take on as a human being… know that it really does affect other people. The things that you say have the power to destroy someone… or to build them up greatly. Your voice… your words… your tongue can take away someone’s life, or enhance it greatly. Don’t play with God, God is a real individual… and things really happen on this planet.

To the world I would really like to say this. Overcome your shortcomings… throw away personal vendettas… throw away greed, guile, mistrust. Learn to truly like a person for who they are, and not for the color of their skin; because in the end, you lose out, not the other way around.”

He quotes Albert Einstein: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” a quote that (for good reason) has often been shared by many of our 365 friends.

With the blunt passion that one would expect from Damian, he gives us his concluding words of activation. “We know how far we will go… and we know how far we will not. History has shown us a reflection of ourselves, and what we will do when everything get’s down to the wire.

Don’t be that guy with butter on his head. The one that doesn’t know what’s going on… Be a contributor.”

So I ask myself, as Damian has challenged, what will I do when it get’s down to the wire?

A thought for us all, I guess?

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