“Do your part to make this a better world in which we live, make it a point to get out and get to know someone that doesn’t look exactly like you look.”
Those are words I spoke each Sunday evening at the close of my former radio show. Those words were important to me because I knew equal parts of the black community and the white community were listening to that program based on the correspondence I and the station received. I thought about those words recently while reading about the latest incident at Starbucks in Philadelphia. If only time would have been allocated to speak with those two gentlemen, by the manager, for just a brief moment. Perhaps someone’s heart light would have had a chance to glow instead, we chose to ostracize two people. Too many times we retreat into areas of comfort rather than extend our hand in friendship knowing that we all just want to be appreciated, loved and respected. We can put our footprints on the moon but yet we fail to step toward making a new friend. As a child, I remember running home to mom just to say, “Hey mom, this is my new friend Johnny.”
Something happens to us between then and now because we all need friends old and new and when it is someone totally different we too become different, richer and a more wholesome human being.
As host of the Upper Lounge at Old City Prime, I recall an evening when two Middle Eastern gentleman came in and sat toward the back. One of our patrons said to me, “I hope they aren’t terrorist.” I was appalled and took the steps toward friendship. I shook hands with those gentlemen as we conversed and laughed together. I am better today because I chose to take those steps toward friendship. Sometimes the world is not so kind, especially if you look a little different and I think we have an obligation to make the world a kinder, more gentle place whenever we can.
William Penn once said, “If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow human being, let me do it now and not deter or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” It only took 20 seconds to walk over and say hello. Twenty seconds in Philadelphia would have permitted someone’s heart to shine and would have saved two gentleman eight hours of misery.
We are all just looking for a place of comfort in this world, a place to be seated at the table. We can choose to assist, ignore or even prohibit that seating but society loses when we choose the two latter choices. As a child, when we excitedly ran home to tell about our newest friendship, that was a display of childhood innocence something ,unfortunately, we seem to grow out of. I’ve watched , in the animal kingdom, natural predators and animals of prey forbade their natural instincts because they were raised together. We humans despite attending schools together, still haven’t arrived at that same place as our four legged friends. I am not sure one day of training at Starbucks will change what lies in the heart of many, but I am positive that no act of kindness is ever wasted.
So once again let me say, “Do your part to make this a better world in which we live, make it a point to get out and get to know someone that doesn’t look exactly like you look.”
Charles Thomas is a former radio host and a retired juvenile probation officer. He’s a lifelong resident of Lima.