Sacred moments of connection to another person happen in the oddest places.
The other day I was shopping at one of those big box stores. It must have been an in-between time since there were only a few shoppers. A woman, even older than I, was handing out samples of a drink and I stopped to try some. She hesitated for a moment, then spoke quietly, “Yes, we need to vote.”
At first I didn’t know what she meant. Then I realized I was wearing a button that said, “Someone paid the price for your right to VOTE.” The pin marked the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March of 1965. I responded, “Ah, yes!”
With no one in the vicinity, we launched into a conversation about the present political atmosphere. We both acknowledged that our being over 70 years old meant that we had seen and experienced a lot over the years. However, her experience of being a woman in the 50s, 60s, and 70s was exacerbated by her being a black woman during those times. We lamented for our daughters and granddaughters who now face how repressed our society is becoming for both the rights of minorities as well as for women.
We discussed how we worry that things will get worse before they get better, noting that bigotry and hatred has been given free rein and that violence could erupt because of that. And, yes, we cried — and hugged.
We must all recognize that these are not sane and civil times, when white supremacists such as Stephen Bannon are running the White House and when some arrogantly flaunt the confederate flag on their vehicles and display it on their houses. The racist meaning is loud and clear.
We now have a whitelash happening against eight years of having an African American president. The majority of Americans accepted President Obama — they are not racist, are not homophobic, are not fearful of immigrants. However, right now we have bigotry, misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia being mainstreamed by this administration and many of our legislators.
If you are white — especially white male — and you think you don’t have to worry about what’s going on, think again. Do you have children or grandchildren, daughters, mothers, wives, sisters? Do you care how women are treated?
Do you really want sexual abuse and harassment of the women you love and care about to be acceptable? Furthermore, do you want your daughter to be considered a “host” and therefore her body is subjugated to the whims of an old white male lawmaker? Several women I know have already been openly groped and grabbed. Have the predators been given carte blanche?
Oh, and what about bullying? Do you want bullying to be the norm? Do you really believe that bullying is okay — whether it’s done to a child, a disabled person, a woman, a minority, a gay, a trans? Is this what you want to see happening in our nation? That bullying and fear mongering becomes a way of life?
Or what if you are a farmer? Are you worried about who will help you? Vermont dairy farmers are very concerned that they will lose their cows and their farms if their reliable and hardworking immigrant farmworkers are deported. If you are a mushroom grower, do you worry? If you grow apples, what about you?
Just like many farmers, most of us are concerned about what is happening in our nation and we want civility and good citizenship to be restored. Meanwhile, we can all be on the lookout for transcendent moments of grace in the everyday with the people we may meet in the oddest of places.
* Kayta Curzie Gajdos holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and is in private practice in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. She welcomes comments at MindMatters@DrGajdos.com or 610-388-2888. Past columns are posted to www.drgajdos.com. See book.quietwisdom-loudtimes.com for information about her book, “Quiet Wisdom in Loud Times: The Rise of the Wounded Feminine.”
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