Actually, I’m not going to reflect on the election. Nor am I going to talk about the current political situation, policies, the upcoming mid-term elections, or even party. Instead, I’m going to tell you about my friend, G.
I’ve known G for 16 years. We met during a dark time in both our lives. I believe that God brought us into each other’s life, and without question he’s been a blessing, bringing not only healing for both of us, but joy. He’s my best friend, my brother from another mother.
When we met, I knew right away that we could be great friends. He liked all the same things as me, Star Trek, Star Wars, music, video games, sports, and so on. But more than that, we’d both been hurt by people and we both processed emotions in much the same way, despite having very different upbringings and backgrounds. But that’s where the similarities end. Frankly, he’s a much better person than I.
I write that with no undue modesty.
In fact, G is a better person than most people I’ve known. Not that my life is full of crappy people, but G is one of those people whose disappointments and hurts have only made him a more thoughtful, compassionate person. Conversely, I tend to roll up like an emotional pill-bug to defend myself against future kicks. Knowing G has made me a better person. Not a great person by any stretch, but he demonstrates with his actions the sort of person I’d like to be.
G is the sort of person who does things because they are the right thing to do, not because he seeks thanks or advantage. As a result, he tends to be underappreciated. Isn’t that the way it is, though? When someone or something is so quietly dependable, it’s easy not to think about it, or him.
Here’s a story that demonstrates exactly the sort of guy he is:
Some fifteen years ago, we were attending a young adult Christan fellowship group (same group where we met). The peer-lead kind where you sing some songs, someone talks, and then you go out for something to eat afterwords to socialize.
Sarah, a regular, brought a friend to the group for the first time (her name escapes me), a strikingly attractive young lady. Sarah introduced us, and we shook hands and that was that.
A few minutes later a couple of guys showed up who’d never been to the group before. They looked us all over from the door before making a bee-line for Sarah and her friend. They didn’t bother to interact with anyone else. I didn’t pay much attention, but from the little I noticed, it seemed to me that the guys were making good time. They were handsome and kept up an easy banter. Frankly, it made me a little jealous as I’ve never been any good with the ladies.
Afterwards, about 20 of us went to Red Robin. The Christian dude-bros were still chatting up Sarah and her friend, and sat next to them.
After dinner, G and I left. We exited the restaurant and were 30 feet away when the door opened and I heard talking behind us. G stopped, and I turned out of curiosity. It was Sarah, her friend, and the dude-bros. The guys were pressing hard for phone numbers, offering their own and throwing out ideas for dates.
Upon seeing G, Sarah’s friend ran up to him, leaving Sarah and the guys behind. She immediately started nervously chatting at him (ignoring me completely), asking if he had a nice night and all that.
The two dude-bros paused 20 feet back, not knowing what to make of the situation, before starting to walk toward us.
At that moment, G asked her if she’d like us to walk her to her car. She nodded her head energetically, and said, “Yes, that would be great, thanks!” G looked over her shoulder and made eye contact with the two dude-bros. He didn’ frown or scowl,was completely dead-pan, but that expression said it all. It said, “Back off.” There was no threat. There didn’t need to be.
The dude-bros stopped in their tracks as if they’d run into an invisible wall. After a moment, they went back to chatting up Sarah.
We walked Sarah’s friend to her car, G glancing back every so often to keep an eye on the dude-bros who were walking Sarah to her car, 15 feet away (they never got her number). G wished her a good evening and waited until her door was locked and engine running. That was the last we ever saw of Sarah’s friend. Not-so-coincidentally, it was the last we saw of the dude-bros.
Later on, Sarah told us that her friend had just gotten out of a bad relationship and just wanted to worship God and be around other Christians. Instead, she got relentlessly hit-on. Sarah’s friend didn’t know G from a hole in the wall, but he was the one she turned to for help; little did I know that G had his eye on the situation the entire time, ready to step in at any moment. But he’s also the sort of person who will not usurp another person’s agency, and so waited for an opening to help, and when it came, he was ready.
It’s not that I think the other people in the group were bad, calous, or insensitve. They, including me, just weren’t as aware, present, or sensitive to the situation. The rest of us took for granted that we were meeting in a church and that it was safe. But it wasn’t. Not for Sarah’s friend. Apart from Sarah, G was the only one who knew it or did anything about it.
That is just one instance that demonstrated his character. It has inspired me to be more aware of what’s going on around me, to be more respectful, more prepared, less selfish.
I could go on and on, but I don’t want this to get sappy. G isn’t a saint, nor is he perfect, but he’s a great guy.
And none of that changed when he voted for Trump.
I think that is the most important lesson I’ve learned a year into the presidency of Donald J.Trump. As much as I hate Trump, almost everything he’s done, and everything he stands for, it has nothing to do with G… and it has forced me to throw away the demonization, the easy generalizations that are being thrown around about people who voted for him. That’s why I’m not using G’s whole name, or showing his face. He doesn’t deserve the sort of abuse he’d get because of who he voted for.
Maybe some of the negative characterizations are true of some Trump supporters, but it is DEFINITELY not true of G. The same goes for Clinton supporters, or Sanders supporters, or whoever else you want to blame for the way things are. People are more than who they voted for, or their party affiliation, or their religion, or race, memberships, or catchphrases. So maybe all of those people don’t deserve the abuse, either.
We all love and hate and hurt and hope.
And we’re ALL Americans.
We’d do well to remember that.