The mumblings of a Christian autistic husband, dad, IT guy and amateur radio operator - Will Brokenbourgh / AF7EC
Do Like Willie Does
Yesterday evening a story came to my attention that made me sad and frustrated. I will describe it the best I can, then will explain my feelings on it.
The story that frustrated me goes like this: A woman took two little girls to Sesame Place in Philadelphia so they could see their favorite Sesame Street characters and generally just have some fun. While there, one of the girls' favorite characters walked by, giving high-fives to other adults and children, but when the character was near the two little girls, the character shook its head 'No' and motioned with its hand, either 'No' or was waving. The character then walked right past them. The two little girls were very disappointed and the woman who brought them got angry. Now the woman is on the warpath, doing interviews and press conferences, wearing a mega-pout and claiming that Sesame Place is racist.
Now I saw the video of the alleged racism, and, I mean, come on -- it was just one of those things. Now before you consider me a racist, remember that I have Black ancestry, was married into and very much immersed in the Black community for a number of years. Before that, I was married into a Mexican-American family, and experienced years of that culture. I truly do believe that racism still exists, I believe that people can be bigoted and unloving. I do not deny the horrible real atrocities that were done against Black folks, but also against Jews, native Americans and others who were 'different'. Unfortunately in this world, there is no shortage of hatred. That being said, I think this woman completely overreacted and her claims are completely unfounded.
Who knows what the person inside the Sesame Street character could see? Maybe there were kids behind the two little girls who wanted to interact with the character, but they were too far away. Maybe the character was part of a parade (looked like it from the video) and the character needed to catch up to where they were supposed to be. Who knows what the inside scoop was. But even if the actor inside was racist, this would have been a great opportunity for the mother / auntie to say something like "Yeah, I know that was disappointing, but this stuff happens in life. Don't give them power -- forgive then then shake it off." That would have been one of many proper responses to this whole thing. That way, the girls would learn to better cope with life's disappointments (and there usually are plenty in life) and they also will see their mom / auntie as someone who is wise, has integrity and patience.
Throughout my life, I have seen people cry 'racist' in far too many situations where it simply wasn't true. Often, people who are already hurting from some past hurt or have unresolved bitterness from prior discouraging situations are easily set off by relatively minor things. Shoot, I've even reacted that way to some things, but the tempering of Holy Spirit, guidance from loved ones and my wife help wrangle me back in.
Did that Sesame Street character take the girls' candy away? No. Did the character do a vulgar gesture at the girls or physically assault them? Definitely not. Did the person inside the costume take the head off and start hurling racial slurs at the woman and children? No way! So I'm trying to see where there was real racism here. When I was younger, TONS of bad things happened to me, but can I call the people who were involved in these bad things 'racist'? Of course not! I have been mistreated, cheated, assaulted, robbed and yelled at a LOT in my life, but I wouldn't call the perpetrators 'racist'. No, it boils down to general hatred, pain and the way others have been raised.
Do Like Willie Does
So, the title of this post ... When I was in my twenties and earlier thirties, I worked with a fella named Willie. He was an exceptionally hard worker, compassionate and was a strong husband and father. Willie not only worked a full-time job at our employer, he also ran a carpet-cleaning business on the side. He and I and a good friend were working together on an invention, and sometimes we'd meet at Willie's house. Willie's house was clean, bright, smelled good, his wife showed him respect and they worked as a team, and his kids were, for the most part, very respectful -- at least as respectful as teenagers can be. Not only was his house in order, we'd go to his well-kept back-yard and he had an array of fruit trees, a garden and a very cool composter!
One time the big heavy garage-door spring broke at my apartment's garage, and the sharp broken part sliced my side open. I didn't have time to go back to the apartment to have it attended to, so I just drove to work. When I arrived, Willie immediately saw the blood and torn maintenance uniform and dressed my wound. I mean, come on -- this guy was super cool. God bless him richly!
Willie also is Black.
Now, let's play a little thought game. Imagine Willie had just got off work and was going to clean someone's carpet. His business truck needs gas, so he stops at the gas station. A man at the pump next to him glares angrily at him, missing the gas nozzle holder and making a loud clang. Willie looks up to see what the noise was, seeing the man staring intensely at him. The man then says some awful racial slurs under his breath, gets in his car and leaves. Willie has some choices on how to handle this nasty encounter: One - he can put on a mega-pout, post on Facebook that he had to endure a horrible racist attack, try to get on the local news and tell his sad story, put on press conferences and make his encounter sound like it was the end of the world or -- two -- he can say to himself "Man, that was uncalled for. Well, gotta get to work." and leave it at that. He goes to work, cleans some carpet, comes home to a loving family and calls it a day. No drama, no embellishing, no silly nonsense. He might mention it to his wife, but then it's completely forgotten after that.
I think we all should do like Willie does.
Time is one of the most precious gifts anyone on Earth has. When you give away time to someone else, you're giving away something very valuable and important. If you are constantly giving time to people who bother you, annoy you or do wrong, it's like you're tossing gold in the trash! Don't throw one of the few valuable things you've got away by constantly thinking about what someone said or stew about something uncaring, mean or spiteful that was done to you. If they didn't physically harm you, take the time back by throwing out the hurt, the pain and the annoyance. Tell your spouse or close friend about it, then just let it go! If you don't, you're tossing a precious gift away to someone who doesn't know how to treasure it. Now if they are hurting or violating you physically, get out, get safe and find help from family, authorities and other professionals!
You might say "My ancestors were treated bad by white folks!". Okay, I agree that many people were mistreated, constantly harassed, brutalized and murdered in the past. At least two groups of my ancestors, Black folks and Jews, faced the same thing. But are those same people from your ancestors' days harassing, abusing and murdering you, right now? If they're not, it's not your fight! -- you have to work through it and then let it go. Yeah, it sucks that your ancestors were murdered in cold blood, and no, it's NOT right, but if it happened before your time, what good will it do to feed more anger and bitterness into the situation now? Learn any lessons from what happened, then let it go!
Bitterness, rage, anger and frustration lead to nothing good -- I know this first-hand! And again, these things take away time and power from you -- why throw what little you have away? Instead, resolve to take your life in a different direction -- grow stronger, grow wiser, learn everything you can and work yourself into a better position. This is where a relationship with God is so important -- he can really help those who seek him and want to do better, but even if you aren't a Believer, you can make the choice to overcome the garbage from your past and the wrongs done to your ancestors. No one but you can make that decision, though, so it's my hope that you choose wisely.
Instead of blaming someone else's poor treatment of you for you being out of work, for you feeling like a victim or your bad attitude, let someone else's bad behavior be a catalyst for you, giving you an example of how not to be, showing your wife, your kids or your friends that whining, complaining or even retaliation is not a fitting reaction. Instead, go do something great for someone else, do something loving or serve someone else in a useful and helpful way. Convert that negativity the other person threw at you into strength and resolve to achieve great things. And if you are a follower of Jesus, you bless that other person and pray that soon they get to experience the love and power that comes from an intimate relationship with the Creator!
I imagine some people might be offended or upset by what I've had to say here -- wouldn't be the first time. But if you start to feel frustration, anger or annoyance by my words, stop for a moment and tell that junk to get lost -- you can do like Willie does.
God bless you, and thank you for reading!