Spencer in Spokane
So let’s start today’s blog with acknowledging where we are as a country. We are in the midst of a pandemic, economic collapse, political unrest, social unrest, limited social outlets and no sports! If we weren’t living this, I would think this was a preview for a blockbuster movie starring Will Smith being tasked to save the world! But it’s not (a movie) and it is real. If you are anything like me and my family, your living space has become your sanctuary from all of this madness. With that being said, my wife due to a family obligation was asked to fly to Spokane, Washington. This was great for, not only to support a loved one, but I could finally meet six of her 13 aunts and uncles for the first time! I could not or would not pass this up! My wife is bi-racial and let’s just say I was heading to meet the center of the Oreo cookie’s side! (I crack myself up). Now I’m a small town man from North Omaha, Nebraska. The home of the Huskers, Malcom X and Omaha Steaks. More importantly, my side of the town predominately reflected the outer portion of that delicious Oreo. Since moving from Omaha, my family and I have traveled, lived and experienced many of the different cultures our country has to offer, and I wear that as a badge of honor! When we landed, I soon realized that I was traveling to a place that was a lot different from what I’ve ever experienced and that was quickly confirmed. On the first site, Spokane felt like a small town on steroids or maybe in context to today’s blog, the blonde Oreo. Needless to say, I was really far from North Omaha and any other diverse town that I’ve lived in or experienced.
The Elephants in the Room
I don’t know about you, but the state of our world seems to remain with me at all times, and I am constantly evaluating my surroundings. Our stance on the world today is defined by a few universal questions that need to be answered in order to feel comfortable in the same room.
· Do you wear a mask?
· Do you shake hands, tap fist, elbows, or hug?
· Do you agree with Kapernick?
· Do you like Trump?
Based on your answer, and how honest you are in your feelings each answer could possibly determine if your interaction can go left quickly! I was prepared for that, and her family in Spokane was too. At some point in every home we visited, once settled in, the universal acceptance questions quietly made its way to the main topic of discussion. Viewpoints were shared, vulnerable statements were made, a heated exchange happened; Uncomfortable silence, willingness to learn, a sense of hopelessness, and hope all surrounded these conversations. My views, ideas, assumptions, and feelings were heard, and more than likely at some points not agreed upon. I believe that to be true for everyone else involved that I interacted with. Our views did not always align, but never once did I feel unwelcomed, unheard, or unrespected. (I just made that word up!) Now I know you feel like you know where this is headed, and I want to ensure that you are probably wrong! We did not create the plan or idea that would cure society of its open wounds and flaws (no Will Smith moments here). As a matter of fact, the majority of the conversations ended in collective blank stares and moments of reflection. The only thing that we all knew was there has to be change. These changes will not happen in one conversation, one post, one meme, one month, one president, one ideology, or one political party. I have my theories and opinions, I won’t burden you with that right now, besides, that’s what social media is for (insert sarcasm)!
I say all of that to say this. Spokane was different for me, but it was home for them. Sometimes in life, we have to understand that what you consider home can be completely different to others, even if you live on the same block, in the same city or same country. America is home for many, and for me, my experience has been different from yours. Our opinions, thoughts, and viewpoints are just that, they are ours. That doesn’t make it correct. There isn’t one school of thought that will cure or fix this country. We are finally acknowledging some elephants in the rooms of America and this has left us all at many times with that familiar blank stare and moment of reflection, and that’s okay. Change is not comforting, but that does not mean it is not necessary.