Ten days ago was the celebration of America’s fight for independence from British rule. A lot of people did their darndest to make it about a whole bunch of other things, and were successful . . . a bit like the celebration of Christmas has become, politically speaking.
Luna and I were by ourselves, without plans, a place to go or people to go with. Honestly, I was pretty ok with that. I don’t like crowds and neither Luna or I do well with loud noise. The day before, I’d had an encounter with a fellow human, which seemed to be a God ordained appointment and a reason to expand my thinking and concerns to be about more than just me getting though and getting by. So, I’d set a meeting with his daughter for about 1 pm at a local park where I could let Luna run and play. I figured if something happened and the meeting fell through, at least Luna and I would be out of doors and away from the television.
Upon arriving, I was confronted with facts I had failed to consider: 4th of July + public park = people gathering and eating food and hanging out with family and friends. I’d been under some misguided assumption that everyone would be celebrating at their homes or various destinations where they could settle in and prepare for fireworks to be seen. Without really ever thinking about it, an expectation of relative solitude and isolation had been formed. So, I was caught a bit off-guard to see a large (to me at least) gathering of people in the main picnic area and salivating a bit at the smell of the meat grilling off to the side. There were smatterings of other groups throughout the park and a significant number of children and their parents utilizing the playground. It wasn’t crowded by any means and it was nice that Luna had other children to engage with. It was a good thing.
It turned out that I had made a good choice in planning the meeting to happen there, since the person I had arranged to meet was a no show. I had considered that would happen, so it was no big deal. I did what I tend to do and struck up conversation with various other parents. I may have difficulty forming lasting and significant relationships and struggle against myself to be around folks who have known me a while, but I’ve seldom ever met a person I couldn’t strike up conversation with and establish rapport and common ground with. I enjoy meeting and learning about new people and their lives. I just have difficulty dealing with people after they get to know me well and I them, go figure.
One couple was from the other side of the city and had come to this park because a family member would be performing at an event happening in another part of the park. They invited Luna and me, along with another family to come over to hear the vocal and creative talents of their loved one and their reason for us having met them in this place, at this time. Sure, why not?
It turned out that it was a kind of rally. An alternative event for those who have experienced social injustice throughout the generations due to things like racism, sexism, and the oppression of and by the powers that be . . . typically white men of money and means. American Independence and Liberation cannot be celebrated by those who are still experiencing the generational effects of injustices visited on their forebears by America’s forefathers, especially when it is clear and apparent that while progress has been made in significant and constructive ways, there are trends and patterns which indicate the oppression has become more subtle and subjective and much less obvious to the naked eye.
Initially, I was smirking inside of myself; internally shaking my head and thinking to myself, “Seriously? Whatever.” The speaker was powerful: Assured, Assertive, and Absolute in his certainty and mission. The rhetoric was questionable, but plausible and more than possible. I began to listen and hear. The message that came through to me, loud and clear was:
- If even one person in our community is experiencing social injustice, then we are all experiencing it.
- If we allow our personal distaste for style of presentation or disagreement on one or two points to be our excuse for not seeking solutions and engaging within our communities for growth and change, we are perpetuating the problems.
- We can agree to disagree on some of the details and still find ways to effectively work together for the good of all.
- Everyone has something, regardless of how big or small, to contribute and offer: time, talent, influence, encouragement it’s just a matter of willingness to believe what we have to offer can make a difference.
- We need to be open to the reality that regardless of politics, agendas, beliefs, and traditions, we may have come a long way as a country, but there is still farther to go in making the ideals of Life, Liberty, and Justice for ALL a possibility for future generations.
Hearing all of this, affirmed the initial reason why I wound up at this rally and I realized that even if the reason I thought I was there didn’t happen, there was still a reason for me being in that place, at that time. I have mixed feelings about what I heard that day, but I’m certain of one thing, even when my plans and purpose seem to go awry, there is a plan and a purpose beyond what I believe it to be.