About a month ago, an interracial couple was stabbed in Washington State. They were just walking down the street, stopping to express affection when a mentally unstable racist ran at them stabbing them. When I heard the story, on the radio, I paused for a second. What would we do? What would we do if that was us? My husband Aaron and I are out and about all the time. I am a person who likes to hold hands, grab the occasional kiss, stop for random hugs when I feel overwhelmed with gratefulness for my family.... what if that was us? And I thought about blogging/making a status update/instagramming about that fear. But then, I checked myself.
The thing is, there are jerks in the world. And sure, we could end up being treated poorly at some point because we are two people of opposite races who happened to fall in love, got married, and had some adorable babies. Perhaps we could run into jerks who call us names, throw things at us, threaten to harm us or our children... but the thing is, it's most likely not going to happen. Because in real life? Most people are awesome.
Most people smile when they see us. I think people of an older generation (parents age, not grandparents age) smile extra big, because they remember a time when mixed couples were rare, maybe even illegal . We are treated kindly almost always, sometimes in an almost over the top way, especially when we are out in public. I know this happens to everyone with littles, but we are stopped, like a lot, to be told how cute our kids are, how well behaved they are, to be asked if any of them are twins (or triplets)...
Because in real life... most people are awesome.
Last year, about this time, we went to Mass at a church. A woman treated us really poorly. Then a couple other people did too. I was mad. I wrote a blog about how mad I was, and people commented about how mad they were that we were treated so poorly. I'm embarrassed to say, I don't think I ever followed up on that blog. Followed up to tell you the pastor heard about the incident, and the next weekend wrote in his bulletin about what happened. Wrote and told his parish that young families were welcome, he wrote he was embarrassed our family was treated poorly in his church. That pastor didn't have to follow up, but he did, in a really big way. And to be honest, a year later? I am kind of bummed I wrote the blog. I'm bummed because even though I was upset about the experience, my personal reflection on it wasn't truthful. I wasn't intentionally lying, it felt real at the time, but it wasn't painting the whole picture.
Because in real life... most people are awesome.
Most people when we go to church, smile at us. Some giggle. We see faces of older men/women who remember these days. We see faces of other young families and share moments of solidarity. My favorite part of Mass is when the boys do 'prayer hands' and we all walk up to receive Jesus. One time, when Joey was 2 and had a full scale meltdown during a priest's homily, the priest joked that Joey would surely be a priest... because when the priest was 2, he used to have full scale meltdowns during Mass. Last week, the main priest celebrant, while distributing the body of Christ, whispered to my boys how thankful he was we were there.
The thing is, seriously, in real life, most people are awesome.
I'm not trying to be Pollyanna about things. I know we have real, systematic problems. I know we have tensions, world issues, sin and hate in the world. But I'm done pretending that most people aren't trying to be good, decent human beings.
This year, with all the racial tensions, flamed by leaders pandering to their constituents, for a hot second, I actually started to believe most people were pretty gross. Our family had some events to go to, and as I'd watch the social media sound bytes of people we were suppose to be around, I would tell Aaron..."I don't think we should go to this thing, where this person will be, who said this about white people, or this about black people". Aaron, thank God, would remind me how great these people are when we are around them. Aaron, thank God, would remind me the things people say behind the protection of their computer, in a spur of emotion, doesn't reflect how they treat us/our family/and specifically our children in real life. Of course, he was right. The same people who sometimes say the most vile things, I can laugh with, joke with, smile with. These same people smile at the smiles of my children, they are kind and good to me, even with my white skin, or Aaron, even with his dark skin.
Because, in real life, people are awesome.
I guess what I am saying, what I've been convicted of is we have to be so careful about the extremes we are using in social media (myself included). We have to be intentional to not \participate in the problem. We have to consider, "would I say this in real life, to the entirety of my social media circles?"- and if the answer is no, perhaps we shouldn't post it.
Lord knows I have a lot of work when it comes to this. But when I look at the cluster we have on our hands in this election cycle, a cluster WE HAVE CHOSEN,it convicts me more than ever, we have to be responsible for our words. We have to celebrate the amount of awesome in the world instead of pretend the majority of people operate in a way that creates division, hatred, fear, etc...
We have to say it over and over again...
IN REAL LIFE PEOPLE ARE AWESOME.