On October 30, 1957 at a Democratic City committee dinner in Easton, Pennsylvania, then Senator John F. Kennedy declared this phrase:
“…that which unites us is far greater that what divides us.”
I imagine if John F. Kennedy were to say those words today – he would be met with laugh emoji’s all over social media, with his likeness turned into a meme.
But think about these words and what has happened in your life to make them ring true. There is no doubt we are in an incredibly divisive and dangerous time. Anger, hatred and bullying are turning individuals into martyrs, fanatics, and terrorists. Even those seeking the very ounce of attention that one feels they deserve are using these hateful times for their own benefit – insert Jussie Smollett here!
But I digress.
I want to feel that we can live in a world where this phrase is true and felt in every moment that you encounter. I have two to share:
I woke up this morning knowing that this winter Nor’easter had pounded us here in the Worcester belt – leaving almost a foot of snow. My husband had already left for work – so it was me and the shovel alone to finish the job.
I first cleared a way for my dogs to do their business in the back of the house, and then made my way to my tenant’s front door to clear her path.
Heavy, wet snow is the absolute worse, but I had to work through this to get my tenant and us cleared out.
Of course I go to start up my husband’s thousand-dollar snow blower, and to no avail, it wasn’t working properly – so old school it was.
Walkways, no problem. Stairs, a breeze. But city plows had pushed snow in front of our driveway, which now amounted to three feet of pure pain. So I began slowly and steady to clear a pathway for our cars to get out.
Just then, I hear a garage door open and like Superman flying out of the sky, here comes my neighbor with his plow. Without hesitation he says, step back – I’ll clear this out for you.
Thank God, I said out loud and 5 minutes later, mount snow Everest was gone. Cars could get out and my back was spared the ultimate punishment.
He then jumped out of his truck with a “Keep America Great Again” Trump hat on, smiled at me as I thanked him a million ways from Sunday. He took the shovel out of my hand and said, “I’ll get the rest.”
I watched and he quickly removed the snow from behind the tires and under the bumper for smooth sailing.
As he turned to hand me back my shovel, I reached out my hand and said, God bless you and thank you!
He returned my gratitude with a hug and said, anytime my friend – KAGA hat and all.
Then this past summer, my husband and I were traveling home from our 10-year anniversary vacation in beautiful Jamaica. Our connecting flight was through Charlotte and we were hungry. Walking around the Charlotte airport is like being in a food carnival. Everywhere you turn, there are fast food stops that would make your heart stop.
We agreed upon North Carolina’s Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits. After getting our food, we decided to walk and find a less crowded place to sit and eat and reflect on our wonderful trip. We found a gate with no one around and ate in solitude.
About 10 minutes into our meal, a woman sat down diagonally across from us. I only noticed her because of her “Make America Great Again” Trump sticker prominently placed on her carry on bag. She was very well kept, blond, and beautiful. I remember thinking to myself – what woman in her right mind would support this president?
I went back to our solitude (plus 1) and looked up again. The color in her face had gone. Her stature now sunk. I asked my husband if she was crying, and he said yes. My next thought, without hesitation, was to go over to her.
I put my Bojangles’ off to the side, grabbed some napkins and walked over and sat beside her.
“Are you okay”, I asked.
She shook her head and a tear trickled down her cheek.
“I came over because you looked upset and you were alone.”
She begins to tell me that she had just received a message from her brother, that her mother, who was hundreds of miles away, had passed.
I took her hand in mine and put my arm over her shoulder. She wept.
A few moments passed and she looked at the sticker that I noticed earlier and her first reaction was to apologize to me. Perhaps she thought that my being a Black woman, I would see the sticker and tell her good luck with her troubles.
But I shook my head and asked, “do you believe in God?”
She nodded yes. So I asked if I could pray with her and she began to weep some more.
I prayed for the comfort of her family and for God to cover them all with love and support during this time of transition. I prayed for God to keep her strong as she made arrangements to make her way to Nebraska. I prayed that God would let her know that sometimes He brings people to you in your time of need, even when you don’t ask or pray for it.
She thanked me. She hugged me for several seconds. She thanked me again. She called me a blessing. And then I wept.
I stayed there for several more minutes as she talked about her mom and the wonderful memories they shared. I stayed right with her through it all.
Finally, she said it was time to go figure out how to get back to Nebraska to her family. I offered her water and some more napkins to travel with. I even offered to walk with her to the travel desk to help make the arrangements. She assured me that she was okay and began gathering her things to begin the process.
As she stood up, she looked at me and said, "I don’t know how I would have gotten through this moment without you." And I smiled at her and I simply said, “It was God.”
She walked away and I returned to my seat and reflected for several moments. And I remember thinking and thanking God for putting me in this space at this time for him to use me the way he did - MAGA sticker and all.
Because I think what Kennedy had in mind when he said those words were moments like these – helping, supporting and lifting one another up regardless of what our differences are. But how much more powerful to have God be that unifying factor?
MAGA and KAGA and different ideologies are being used to keep us from understanding the soul of a man, but instead gives us the freedom to hate, ignore, destroy and complain about one another. One Man shouldn’t control what’s in our hearts, but somehow, many are allowing him to do so.
That which unites us through God is far greater than what divides us.
I know we can live in a world where this phrase is true and felt in every moment we encounter. It just takes us looking past what we think and know God is here to show us the true meaning and feeling of love, trust, support and kindness – whether consoling a stranger through grief, or helping a neighbor in need.
All we have to do is look past the MAGA and KAGA merchandise and remember we are all created in the likeness of God – yes, including President Trump.
So, help someone this holiday season that may look different than you. Be kind to someone who may think differently than you. Show compassion to someone that may hate you. And allow God to use you in these moments to unite us all, because in the end, that’s what will make America great again!