“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” ~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Sometimes I just need a positive story or two to lighten my spirits or help me get a new perspective. This week there were three that inspired me.
Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks online news network posted a personal video essay on YouTube this week that reminded me of something similar in my own life. The title of the post was “Sexism is Worse Than I Realized.” He relates a couple of personal encounters with men who stated that they voted for men in recent elections because they didn’t want to vote for a woman. In one case, the person was kicking himself now.
Cenk acknowledges that sexism is worse than he realized. He stated that he grew up in rather sheltered and privileged surroundings and that’s why he just assumed women were getting their due. But he uses poll numbers to support his case that they are not, to which he said, “Really, in 2019 we’re still wondering if a woman can run a country? Look at the guys we’ve had running the country. Especially the Republicans. You should be wondering if a guy can run a country.” He went on to encourage people, mostly women, to be deliberate and educated and vote for the candidates they think are best irregardless of their gender.
As I was listening to Cenk’s video, I remembered something about a time I was confronted with my own prejudices. I had just begun my Master’s in theatre at Portland State University and had met some openly gay guys there. I felt weird and didn’t know how to relate to them. I mentioned this to a young man Barry and I knew at church. He tilted his head at me as if to say Really? You feel that way? What he said to me was, “You talk to them like any other person you know. They aren’t that much different.” Well, of course, I felt dumb. That young man was right. Each person is much more than their sexual orientation, gender, background, behaviors, and prejudices. There is, after all, something inherent in each of us that comes from the same source.
That was a great lesson for me. I needed that little wake up call.
Just last night a couple of other stories reenforced my point of view. I was awake during the night with insomnia and was flipping through my news app. A story popped up that made me cry. Ellen DeGeneres’ show today, as I write this, features three boys who learned a great lesson. One of the boys, Micheal, was being bullied at school because he wore the same clothes day after day. Two other boys, Kristopher and Antwain befriended him. Kristopher admitted that he had also been laughing at Micheal, but after reflecting about the incident at home, he wanted to apologize and give him something. So, he and his friend gave Micheal some clothes. Meanwhile, someone caught the surprise on video and when it was posted it went viral. That was when Ellen invited them to the show.
But the boys were surprised when Will Smith showed up to praise them. “What you did felt small to you, but I promise you that is exactly how human beings are supposed to interact with one another. It’s not more complicated than that. Somebody is having a hard time and you help them. It’s that simple.” Then he proceeded to honor their kindness with gifts.
The final story that made me cry as I was attempting to get tired enough to go back to sleep was from CNN. It’s about a nurse and a biker club she helped and how they paid her back.
A year ago, Daryn Sturch was driving with her daughter when they came across a terrible accident involving several motorcyclists who were part of the Milwaukee Iron Biker Group. Some were severely injured and in need of immediate medical attention. Sturch attended to them until the paramedics arrived.
Over the year, she got connected with the group on social media in hopes of finding out how the injured were doing. The bikers thanked her for helping them on that terrible day and they formed friendships.
A year later, Sturch’s young daughter wanted to make some money by opening a lemonade stand, but unfortunately it got rained out. When the bikers found out about the child’s endeavor and what had happened, they encouraged her to open her stand again. On September 15, 30 bikers showed up to buy lemonade from Sturch’s daughter. Among them were some of those she helped the day of the accident. Sturch said, “I think it’s a perfect example of how just because you don’t look the same way or dress the same way or have the same hobbies or interests doesn’t mean we don’t have the same values inside us. We shouldn’t make assumptions about people we should just love each other.”
This last story reminded me of the time I was teaching drama at the local high school. The members of the International Thespian Society wanted to attend the convention held every year during the summer. We needed to do fund raising for such an undertaking. One of the students got the idea to approach the local Biker group. The students prepared a presentation and we were invited to pitch our idea. The group pledged a large amount of money to our trip if we would help them with one of their events. The students and I agreed. It was a wonderful day. We met so many people who looked different than we did, but who supported our love of theatre and the arts in general. It was a great lesson for all of us. Underneath all of the outer differences, we can find common ground.
This post turned out to be longer than I intended. I tried to find links for the Ellen show, and CNN posts, but they may be too new. In any case, I am encouraged by positive stories like the ones above. They are a testament to me that love is stronger than hate and that we can find common ground with anyone we meet if we only take the time to do so.
Have a fantastic weekend. Blessings.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.
The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.