Gotta Fight

It’s Saturday. I just got back from a bike ride on the Raleigh Greenway. I saw a handful of people today. Normally, on a beautiful fall weekend afternoon, it would be packed. I couldn’t help but think that the shooting death of five people about a mile down on the path two days ago led to fewer outdoor participators. Imagine – you wake up Thursday morning, you step outside of your house that afternoon and you’re gunned down for absolutely no reason at all.

It felt sort of eerie. On one hand the few people I passed seemed more generous with a head nod or smile. On the other, I felt like folks were peering around their shoulder in a more cautious way as I neared to pass them. Were we all torn between wanting to be more welcoming to a stranger and planning our escape route?

I shouldn’t be surprised. It can happen at the grocery store, an elementary or pre-school, an outdoor concert with bullets reigning down from a hotel window above. Something is wrong; something is desperately wrong.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims. My heart goes out to all the communities now living suspect of the biker/runner/walker passing them. My heart goes out to all the teenagers who have such turmoil inside that they result in this unfathomable action to seek a way out.

Half of me wants to move to a secluded beach sans internet service. The other half wants to fight like hell to make EVERYONE feel loved, accepted and worthy.

At church last week, after the sermon, the minister asked us to turn our chairs in a circle with the folks sitting behind us and share our current life “headline.” I rolled my eyes as my wife enthusiastically turned to the couple behind us. I prefer to listen on Sunday, not spill my guts to total strangers.

As I considered what I was willing to share, the other man in the group said: We’re new to Raleigh. I work in a lab at State. I think my headline is I’m An Imposter. He explained that he worked with really smart people, and he didn’t think he met the mark.

His wife quietly replied: Where Are My People? I’m new to town and just don’t know anyone yet.

I thought to myself – cute young couple – fine on the outside, struggling a bit beneath. Aren’t most?

The fighting half of me wants to invite this couple over help him feel a sense of acceptance and to be her “people.” The fighting half of me wants to be a volunteer leader at a YMCA teen program that builds young folks’ self-esteem. We have 160 high school students at our Chapel Hill YMCA Leader’s Club – doing service projects, learning leadership skills and building social networks. The fighting half of me wants to give more money to my buddy Gordon’s effort to raise support for the Boy’s and Girl’s Club each year providing kids a safe place to go when no one else is at home to care for them.

I likely need to work another decade, so I’m thinking the secluded island option is out. I’ll share more smiles. I’ll thank more than complain. I’ll take a deep breath and seek patience in traffic. I’ll more readily share. I’ll do all the things – maybe if we all do? Maybe we’ll make a difference.

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1 Comment

  1. Maybe…hopefully.

    Reply

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