Writer’s Island prompt #16 Brand New Day
Have a friend who is a receptionist for a well-known Law office. As such, she is the first impression new clients meet when they arrive. She told me of an experience she had the day after the Inauguration. A new client, a young black man, came in with his friend. In the course of getting his information and getting him settled, they began to discuss our new President and his speech upon entering office.
The young man, she guessed him to be no more than twenty, was excited and felt personally challenged by Mr. Obama’s talk about how we each must take on the responsibilities for the changes that will be coming. My friend, who is 65 and of Danish descent, not only agreed but found herself involved in a rather profound conversation about what that could mean to each of them on a personal level.
She was awestruck by the reality of the conversation, that it was taking place at all. They were both crossing previously silent boundaries. And not just those of color, but age and gender as well. Finding a common ground in the words of a man neither of them had ever met personally, yet moved by what he had said, and the manner in which he said it.
She and I talked about it at length. Our discussion seemed to revolve around the idea of responsibilities toward ourselves and the world around us. For years, I have been saying, and believing that any freedom entails responsibility, never really hooking into the opposite reality: that each responsibility must also entail new freedoms.
Yet, there is no denying that my friend and this young man walked through the threshold of a new freedom on both their parts. And they both did it with a great deal of profound depth, consciously aware that they were doing so, and that it felt natural and good to take part in a conversation that might not have taken place even a month ago.
No more than a few weeks ago, another friend, a young black woman, wrote about how older white women clutch their purses when they encounter young black males on the street. And even though I, myself, am an older white woman, I knew what she was speaking of and found it a sad reality of the world in which I live.
Yet now, today, I have concrete proof that it doesn’t have to be that way. That things can, and do change, and that today is a brand new day, filled with incredible possibilities, and countless new freedoms. Freedoms that will occur if we as individuals take on the responsibilities entailed in that newness, commit ourselves to seeing that this opporunity not be wasted.
I am not saying that we must all rush out and talk to the first young black male we might encounter, or leave our cautions in the closet when we leave home. I am however, suggesting that we take a really good look at the basis of those cautions, even look for an opportunity to let go of the tight reins we have kept for countless reasons. Some of those reasons are no more than preconceived notions, not based in fact or even experience.
In doing that, we take on the responsibility for our own actions and choices. And ultimately may even gift ourselves with new freedoms. I know of at least two people who have done so, could you be one more?