Just a thought… By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are. [Dietrich Bonhoeffer]
Welcome in to this Tuesday. Do you ever have something happen to you that makes you wonder just what it is you have encountered and what, if anything, it means? I have two examples to share with you of incidents that made me shake my head and think, Who are these people and how is it that I just had a friendly exchange with them?
I’ll tell you one that happened about two months ago. We were in our local grocery store and I got overly excited about seeing a flavour of ice cream that was new to me.
“Rob!” I called to my husband, who was standing about thirty feet away looking at expiry dates on milk cartons. (See? Someone in our house cares about them.) “It’s watermelon flavoured ice cream! Should we get this?”
The brand is Western Family and if you find it, the “pits” are little chocolate chunks, the green part tastes like lime sorbet and the pink tastes just like watermelon.
A man who was walking by and heard my excitement laughed and said, “You’d better grab it; it’s just a limited time thing.” I asked if he’d had it and he nodded and said it was good. I thanked him with a smile, apologized for my exuberance, and made some small talk kind of good-bye as I reached into the freezer compartment and pulled out a container of the treat. Then I saw his hat. It wasn’t MAGA red, but this is what it said.
Huh. I guess that’s…funny? Then, this past Saturday we were at the ferry terminal in North Vancouver, awaiting our crossing to Nanaimo. We walked Molly over to a grassy area to do her business before we boarded and there was a big burly man with a long curly beard and an almost comically small and pudgy little dog. The pup, off its leash, waddled over to Molly and they did their wag-and-sniff routine.
We asked the man in a sleeveless t-shirt and leather vest what kind of dog it was. He told us it was a shih-tzu/chihuahua combination and joked about how chunky the little one-year-old was. We noted that, just like our Molly, his little guy probably owned him, too. He admitted that he does and sleeps right up on his pillow next to him (as Molly does with us). So much in common we seemed to have with this tough-looking biker-type and his petite pooch. The surprise would come two hours later.
After a foggy crossing and smooth debarkation, we merged with a pickup truck on the busy roads leading away from the Nanaimo ferry terminal. I recognized the driver as that man with the small dog.
As he passed us, I saw something on his bumper that made me do a double-take: a decal of a US Confederate flag. I wondered why a Canadian man, whose pickup had a Nanaimo, BC dealership’s tag on it, would be a supporter of a divisive symbol associated with, at worst, white supremacy and, at least, racial bias. I know that groups like the Proud Boys are in Canada and the spread of the poison that saturates US politics is not contained by their own borders. Faith Goldy, anyone?
I can’t answer questions like why someone sports a Trump-style hat calling for the ouster of the PM or why someone who lives in Canada would put a Confederate flag on the bumper of his truck. The answers don’t concern me.
What I wonder about is just how closed my mind is that I wouldn’t have considered having a conversation with either of these people had someone said to me, “There’s a man in the next room or on a website you just need to click through to who, a) is wearing an anti-Trudeau hat reminiscent of a MAGA hat, or b) has a symbol of racist oppression on his bumper. Do you want to talk to him?”
My answer would be, “Absolutely not, thanks.”
I guess what surprises me is that neither man, to the best of my knowledge, had horns coming out of his head. The first guy, I can surmise, just has political views that he’s not afraid to raise and defend – or he doesn’t give a darn what anyone else thinks where his opinions of Trudeau are concerned.
The second guy? He seemed nice enough in our brief exchange, he had a cute dog and…maybe it wasn’t his truck. Yes. That’s it. He hadn’t had time to take off that hateful sticker. Maybe? Yeah, probably not. There was a ferry ride in there, after all.
Some questions don’t have answers and, fortunately, nobody expects me to have them all. Or any, on days like this. Maybe you have some; feel free to leave them on my Facebook page. I’ll be back here with you tomorrow.