“Did that man just strap a gun to his belt?” My 10-year-old squinted, looking across the parking lot of the grocery co-op. I had seen it, too: a middle-aged white man had stepped out of his pick-up truck, taken out a black holster, and strapped it on, pulling his shirt down over it.
“I think he did.”
“Should we call the police?”
“No, it’s legal to carry a concealed weapon in our state.”
No one talked in the car for a moment.
Me again: “I think we might just stay in the car until he gets back. I’m not sure how I feel about having seen that.”
10-year-old: “What is somebody like that doing at the co-op, anyway?”
Somebody like that. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t the first thought that had crossed my mind, too, but cultural conditioning allowed me to censor it and check my prejudice. I admitted this to my 10-year-old.
“Maybe he’s getting herbal medicine for somebody who’s sick in his family. Or organic produce for a baby. Or good vitamins. He’s probably doing all the same stuff that we do here.”
The 10-year-old was dubious, but turned to play a game of rock/paper/scissors with the 7-year-old as we waited out the man’s return.
In my life, I have unexpected bedfellows who are as far—and farther right—than I am left. I grow a portion of my own food and know how to preserve it; so do they. I homeschool my kids; so do they. I go to church, pray, and know my favorite hymns by heart; so do they.
I love this country and the ideals that it is built on. They love our country and the ideals that it is built on.
Everybody needs security. Everybody needs freedom. Everybody needs a place to buy vitamins.
Jesus (my Jesus or their Jesus, whichever), hold our hands. Hold my hands and hold their hands until we are all just holding hands, until the edges of the spectrum meet with a holy spark, until we take the same deep breath together and remember that we are not strangers to each other—we are each other.