Friday, April 15, 2016

A Coat of Many Colors

One step forward, one step in the mud...

How not to use your words.

Although the video above is a short clip so we don't know how this got started, it seems people are much more likely to frown and spout hateful things for even the simple misunderstanding of who is next in line at an ATM.

Do these same folks, at all other times, smile and say polite "Hello"'s to strangers or is this hate their normal attitude to certain individuals or most everyone they meet? It seems to outwardly display the exact opposite of the principles that people in the South supposedly hold in so high esteem. Or is it okay to act this way 99% of the time as long as you put your hour or two of repentance into the week somehow?

In the above picture (left to right) are Almon Adams (my dad), Marge Adams (my mom), Peter Dinett (Mr. Peter to me), and Emily Dinett (Tete to me).

Mr. Peter and Tete were a couple that were from Grand Isle, LA. and lived in the French Quarter of New Orleans, LA. whom my father had befriended when the ship he worked on had docked in New Orleans. We became very close friends when my parents moved to New Orleans where I was born.

I suppose the terms Cajun could be applied to both Tete and Mr. Peter although it never came up. My father took great pleasure in claiming that Mr. Peter was black and Mr. Peter insisted he wasn't a "nigger". It was very confusing to me to hear them all talk about black people (only in private) in such derogatory ways and then tell me (and show me) that I was to treat everyone equally with kindness and respect.

One day, after one of these arguments, I asked Mr. Peter a question. He turned and gave me his full attention like I was an adult instead of an eight year old kid. Knowing that Mr. Peter was a Christian (often walking to Jackson square to go to church), I asked him "When you get to heaven, will there be a fence separating the blacks from the whites?". He sat back in his chair as if stunned and said, "I never thought about it.". After some thought he finally he said "No, I guess there wouldn't be." so I said "Well then we should treat them the same way while we're down here.".

After that, my dad still tried to tease Mr. Peter but it didn't seem to bother him. He had looked at the world through the eyes of a child and was changed. He seemed to be more at peace with himself and the world. He went back to being the kind man that taught me much about the ways of gardening well and probably a good appreciation for the rich soil found in the many reclaimed areas including his enclosed garden that was once pasture for the old vehicles of the French Quarter (yes, I mean horses).

The point is, I grew up influenced by prejudice and love tempered with the ability to think and choose which path to follow. The dark side is SO easy to slide into but I have also been privileged to experience the immense power of love. I may fall, but when I get back up, I try my best to step back onto the path of LOVE.

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