“… You can call it fate or call it destiny. Sometimes it seems like a mystery. Timing is everything!” ~ Garrett Hedlund
Fate? …Destiny? … I cannot explain it.
You see, someone recently sent me a quick read on courageous acts by courageous people. “So, are you trying to tell me something?” I thought to myself while putting the piece aside. Now by coincidence – or destiny? – I remembered that Deborah Levine and Marc Brennan are about to release their long-awaited book, “When Hate Groups March Down Main Street.”
All that said, days later I received the following story from “Mariah,” that provided an opportunity for me to pull all these pieces together:
Tina Turner and the late Michael Jackson. Entertainment icons. Life in the limelight. Adoring fans by the millions. And tons of money. During their heyday, life couldn’t have been any better for them, right?
BREAKINGNEWS: Using slurs to make a point sparks debate on academic freedom. Emory University law professor Robert Saunooke said he tells his students before the start of his first class that there are words and phrases he’ll use that might be uncomfortable (Atlanta Journal-Constitution 9/19/19). And he delivered on that promise by uttering the “N-Word” a couple of times.
As sheer coincidence would have it, I’d just finished rereading Dr. King’s famous “Letter from A Birmingham Jail” when the following excerpts of a letter from my good friend “Shirley” popped up in my email:
Dear Pastor, I first want to say that I have benefitted from your sermons since I have been a part of your congregation. I, however, have some concerns that prompted me to write to you. I know that my political beliefs aren’t necessarily in line with a large portion of the congregation. I knew that when I first started worshipping here but I didn’t perceive it to be a concern. I believed this to be true because I try to look at people and issues and determine the best course of action based upon all that I hear, read, observe and analyze. Based on that process, I pray that I know what is the most prudent to address and decisions to make.
It was 25 minutes before our restaurant was scheduled to open. and I noticed three casually dressed African American young men enter the patio. One peered through the front window, saw that we weren’t yet open and joined the others on the patio. They remained there talking and laughing loudly until we opened.
In a recent article in The New York Times, Hadis Lessani, a high school student living in Kabul, Afghanistan said this about finding a place free from harassment because of her makeup, Western clothing and chatting publicly with young men: “This cafe is the only place where I can relax and feel free.”
You see, trendy cafes like The Simple Cafe have sprung up across Kabul in the past few years as sanctuaries for women in an Islamic culture that still dictates how they should dress and interact with men. These restrictions endured years after tradition banned girls’ education, confined women to their homes and forced them to wear burqas in public.
“Reach out and touch someone and make this a better world if you can.” ~ Diana Ross
Wow, before the ink was dry on my, “Hug me not Joe Biden,” fundamentally a “don’t touch” (or touch selectively) advisory, in the American Diversity Report, along comes Tiffany Field who has spent decades trying to get people to do just the opposite…. touch one another more.
Joe as in Joe Biden, former VP who’s tottering on a decision to make a run for president.
Now this narrative less about Biden and more about hugging and the need to both establish and/or reset social norms relative to personal boundaries. More than anything this is a wake-up call on hugging and the issues and questions the behavior raises.
In her enormously important book, Going Southern, Deborah Levine takes the inquisitive reader deep into many aspects of life in the South, Southern culture, and other things people need to know about us Southern folks.
And she courageously touches on the thorny issue of race as an undeniable part of southern history. Her experiences and mine are about occasionally stepping into racial landmines, reconciliation, contrition and hope.
“I wish I’d spent more time with her,” shared “Paul.” His moistened eyes trailed off over my shoulder as he talked about having recently lost of his mother.
For sure, it’s an uncomfortable thought, but I suspect that we all can relate in some way to Paul’s remorse. Replace his “her” with your “her” (or “him”) and put it into a different context – a child off to college, the military, etc., or like Paul, the passing of a loved one – and we can understand the impact of missing those irretrievable moments of opportunity in life.
Okay, think for a few seconds about a “I wish I’d spent more time” situation in your life. Jot it down on a piece of paper. What got in the way of your spending that time? Were there factors within your control? What could you possibly do to avoid that the next time?