Thanks guys for letting me speak out a little. And I hope you all enjoyed the singing. When you consider that there were no instruments involved except for voices (the percussion and the horns and the bass were all done with voices), it is a pretty spectacular arrangement and performance.
I wanted to tell a short story of something that happened to me while in college at Temple University. I was living in the dorms at the time in a traditionally black neighborhood. I went out one evening to grab something to eat at a McDonalds about 2 blocks from campus. It was nighttime and not something that most on-campus students did. However, with my upbringing and background, this did not seem problematic to me. When I walked into the McDonalds, time seemed to stop and all eyes in the fast food joint were on me. No one was aggressive or even showed any anger, but I definitely felt that I was out of place and possibly not welcome.
It was at that moment that I realized how difficult it must be for folks who are not from any specific neighborhood to interact in those areas. It does not matter whether they are Black, Asian, middle eastern, Mexican or even white (in those rare neighborhoods where the white person is in the tiny minority). There is a hostility that is palpable when you are the odd man out. And for folks in this country who are not part of the vast majority (white folks) in many neighborhoods, they live their lives feeling threatened and in fear. And I never realized how uncomfortable that feeling was until I happened to be in the minority in that McDonalds.
I guess I could have come away with a lifelong suspicion and fear of my fellow man but instead I felt, for a brief moment in time, what it must be like to be a black man, or Asian or Mexican or middle eastern person in predominantly white America.
I did go back to that McDonalds a few times after that and each time I felt slightly less "out of place", but the initial feeling of being an outsider stuck with me as a reason to welcome those who are outsiders in any instance where I am an insider or in my comfort zone.
If God had a part in the conception of the USA, it seems to me that God's hand was in the Declaration of Independence where it is written, "...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
This post was about looking past the hate and suspicion that so many folks trade publicly as "truth" and "reality". For we are ALL really looking for the same things, Life (a warm roof over our heads and three square meals a day), Liberty (the freedom to live that life safely), and the Pursuit of Happiness (with those who we love around us). It just seems logical that we might drop the hate, and finger pointing, and maybe learn how to help our fellow Americans find their Happiness.
--- Begin quote from ____
... and recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women, living on the Earth; ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood...
--- End quote
(from the song above)
I'll step off the soapbox. I hope that I have not offended anyone. If I have, I am very sorry.