Courage


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Wow, I had such a great weekend!  There is so much to think and write about after my weekend at the fabulous Fresh Grass Festival in North Adams Mass.  So much great music, so many wonderful people, so many hilarious and loving moments with my sons.  I swear, I could write a book.  For example, at one point after enjoying a little nip from a clever little flask, I made a reference to “whiskey fumes”.  That became the topic for a whole exchange about using the band name, “Whiskey Fumes”.  I was, for unknown reasons, elected “lead singer.”

Well.

I love it!  I could see myself, gray hair blowing in the evening wind, chubby body swathed in violet linen skirts, belting out tunes on stage.

But I won’t write about that funny moment, or about dancing with my sons to the raucous sounds of “Leftover Salmon.”  Nope.  I have a more important story to tell from my weekend in the Berkshires.

This story took only a moment. In fact, the entire interaction contained only two sentences.

But it is a moral tale about the famously named “Millennial Generation”. It is a statement of hope for the future.  It is a “pat ourselves on the back” moment for those in my generation who have raised young adults like the one in my story.

Here is what happened.

I had been at the Fresh Grass Music Festival from about noontime, and it was now well after midnight.  My brother and I had driven two hours to the Berkshires to get to North Adams, the gritty little Massachusetts town which was host to the music and also home to my two sons.  I had been standing in the sun all day, enjoying incredible live music from a jaw dropping collection of musical geniuses.

I had eaten fries and burgers and cookies and a perfect sugared donut. I had savored a few cold beers and a couple of sips from the Jack Daniels flask.

I had been dancing with a group of 20 somethings for hours.

I was tired, tired, tired. The night was over, and we were heading back to the big old house where my sons and many of their friends live.   I was going to grab my bag and go to sleep in a quieter setting, a few doors down from the after-festival party.

As I walked with my boys and their friends through the cool fall night, conversation turned toward the political scene.  We all shared our complete and utter disgust with the racist bullshit coming from Donald Trump.  We were talking about how incredible we found it that he didn’t contradict the racist idiot who referred to the President as a Muslim, saying it the way I might say, “Serial rapist and murderer.”

As we got to the house, we were still mumbling and groaning about Trump.  We tromped up the stairs to the boys’ apartment, but I was a bit behind my son and his friend.  I was old. I was tired. We had to climb two flights.

As I came into the apartment, I saw Tim smiling at his friend Jess. She was pushing his damp hair back from his forehead.  “What?”, I heard him ask, “Its just sweat. Just good, clean American sweat.”  As I approached, I joked, “As long as its good American sweat, and not Muslim sweat!”

I got closer to Tim and Jess, and noticed with a shock that the room beyond them was not empty.  A few young people were sitting there, talking and drinking wine.  A young man looked up at me with surprise and dismay.  I registered his facial expression and felt myself blush from the tips of my toes to the very top of my head.

Then I noticed a beautiful young girl sitting in the room.  She was looking right at me, her face serious but open.  I could see her horror at my words.  She frowned very slightly then said, right into my eyes, “You know that you can be both American and Muslim, right?”

I don’t know what I replied. I think I sputtered and stammered and tried to explain that it was all a bad Trump joke.  But it was late, and I was tired and my muscles were incredibly sore.

It was so embarrassing and so cringe worthy.

But here is what I took away from that ten second encounter.

That young woman, faced with a racist, bigoted older woman, stood right up and spoke out.

How fabulous is that?

She had no idea who I was, standing there in the apartment at well past midnight, my gray hair in a mess, my clothes sweaty and rumpled.  But she confronted me when she heard me say something both ignorant and unacceptable. She had no idea that I was trying to make a bad joke; she thought that I was speaking my mind, and she wouldn’t let it lie.

She was calm, polite, respectful, but she put me in my place.

And that gives me SO MUCH hope for the future of our country.  That lovely girl is just exactly what we all need; she is courageous, righteous, strong.  She doesn’t hesitate to say the right thing, to right a wrong, to correct a misconception.

I truly hope that my son managed to explain me to her! I hope that she understands now that I was only kidding.

But I also hope that she knows how wonderful her simple comment was. I hope she understands that my generation falls asleep at night hoping that her generation will have the courage and strength to roll back the racism and xenophobia that has taken over our national discourse.

Thank you, young lady!  You absolutely, positively rock.

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6 thoughts on “Courage

  1. I had a similar moment years ago when I commented about a Latino student’s hair that he typically had braided. With the braids out it fluffed out into hundreds of little waves. I made a stupid comment about getting caught in the lawn mower (that, on reflection, didn’t even make sense). A young lady said in a loud but calm voice, “Miss, that is what his hair looks like normally.” I was speechless and couldn’t even explain that I was commenting on the waves much less apologize. To a classroom of Latinos and African American students, the old white lady would have definitely been trying to lie her way out of trouble. Fortunately, the kids didn’t hold my stupidity against me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is heartening to see such courage.

    On the other hand, I am in favor of a little more of a “let it be” attitude when people say something stupid or just, plain thoughtless. Now you can lose your job, your reputation – it’s only a short hop to “off with her head!”

    Like

    • Well, I agree for the average person, although I love it when people point out the stupidity in such a gentle way. I just think its so so wrong when it is a Presidential candidate who says this kind of crap.

      Like

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