We Need To Care

Traditionally, writers and poets have been some of the most emotional people in society. In my past I’ve tried to be stoic, not getting too emotional about things, but the older I get, the more emotional I become. This can be a good thing because it develops compassion and empathy, a love for other people, even when you don’t know them. The truth is, I’ve always been an emotional person, I just tried to hide it. These days however, there’s no hiding it. The other day I watched a video of a donkey greeting the women who raised him, whom he hadn’t seen in a long time and I had tears running down my cheeks. Tears! Part of the issue with that particular video was the donkey. I have a great love for animals. Especially domesticated animals. I love all animals but I feel more affinity toward domesticated animals due to their underdog status. They’re not free. We keep them in fences and cages. We keep them tied up. We teach them to obey.

But I’m not writing about animals today, I’m writing about people. I love the underdog. The ones who are kept back, beaten down, taken advantage of, left behind. Those underdogs. And I root for them. Usually the underdogs have the non traditional ideas. The ideas of compassion and empathy. The ideas that cause other people to squirm and feel uncomfortable. The emotional ideas. Like loving your neighbor, and sharing what you have to help others. Others that you don’t even know. The ones who cry at other people’s pain.

When I was a kid, and forced to participate in phys ed class, whenever we did team sports I always rooted for the other team. I didn’t want to celebrate a victory because it felt like rubbing it in the faces of those who lost. Which is strange because when the other team won and celebrated their win, I didn’t feel like they were rubbing it in my face that I lost. I just didn’t want to win over someone else. I cared about the underdog. Even if it was me, I guess. So yeah, I guess I’ve been an emotional wreck my whole life. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I can’t imagine what it’s like not to feel. Not to care. And I don’t want to know. I’m perfectly happy getting teared up over an animal video. Or over people in cages.

In the political climate we find ourselves in today, we need more underdogs. We need more writers and poets. We need more compassion and empathy. We need more people to get fired up and use their energy for change. The emotionless are trying to take over. Trying to cover the land in a blanket of fear and we can’t let them do that. We need to remember the basic principals of goodness and decency. We need to care, even to the point of tears running down our cheeks. And beyond.


Grocery Store Chatter

hands of color

Overheard in the grocery store checkout line: “I don’t know why those Somali’s can’t learn English. How do I know they’re not talking about me?” Since I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut under certain circumstances, I said, “Do you think that Somali people have left their war torn country, left famine and torture and death, left their families and friends and everything they have ever known to come half way around the world and stand in a grocery line just so they can talk about you? Do you really think they don’t have anything more important to say than that?” To which I got a scowl and no reply. I guess I should be thankful that I am not so jaded that I am still surprised by the idiocy of some people.

My online blogger friend Audrey Kletscher Helbling wrote a really nice post about Somali and other people of color on her blog, “Minnesota Prairie Roots” which I re-blogged a couple of days ago. I could not agree more with what she has to say. Everyone in this country except Native Americans either came from, or has ancestors who came from some other country. We cannot blame people for wanting to come here and start a better life. If we have an issue with our government immigration policies then by all means we should be going after our politicians to change them. But to hate, dislike or despise people who come here just because they are different is wrong. I think the biggest issue is that a lot of people have a hard time with change and with accepting people who look, dress, talk or worship differently than they do. I think this would be a pretty boring world if we were all blond haired, blue eyed English speaking Lutherans. Or dark haired, brown eyed Spanish speaking Catholics.

Diversity is what makes our world great. I love meeting and talking with people from other cultures and counties. I grill them with questions about their homeland and customs. As soon as you ask a Mexican or Somali person about their respective countries they open right up and tell you all about it. In my line of work I meet people of other nationalities every day. I try to engage them in conversation as often as I can. I hope that it makes them comfortable around me. We all live together in this increasingly small world. We need to get along.