I hope everyone has a friend like Verlon; I liked him from the very start! The first time we met over twenty years ago, we passionately argued for over an hour about “how to drink correctly” when, after running out of the white alcohol he was drinking, he turned and asked whether he could continue drinking from my bottle of dark. I promptly looked at him, surprised, and proceeded to explain to him that one simply does not mix white alcohol – vodka or gin with dark alcohol like scotch or cognac – when drinking, without the risk of getting both very drunk and sick! After arguing through a number of dart games for over an hour, I noticed that no one else but the two of us was “goin’ at it.” After Verlon left, the remaining guys all chimed in about how k-k-krazy Verlon was and that he’d argue with God about life and never back down if given the chance! I knew at that very moment that we would forever be polar opposites like fire and ice…
Polar opposites seemed like an understatement regarding the two of us. Twenty years ago I was recently married, entering a Masters program for theology and a lifetime rabid Bears fan whereas he was a sworn single man for life, an aggressive and outspoken atheist and, arguably the worst of all, a Green Bay Packer fan!!! The crew that we hung out together with, eventually got to the point of telling us, when the other walked through the door, that “they weren’t gonna have all that fightin’ and arguin’ over the pool table or dart board today.” Little good their warnings did, for like fire and ice when brought too close together, we were always trying to melt, evaporate or put each other out! Though no longer an atheist (Praise the Lord!), he is one of the few native South side African American Chicagoans who have always been a hard core Republican – prompting me to often ask, “Where does one find a person like this at?”
Fast forward to the last few months leading up to this year’s Presidential election. Whereas age, family, work and – maturity- has virtually eliminated the “crew” as it was and also our ability/willingness to drink as in our youth, we still call to talk and fight vehemently over almost everything under the sun. The times we do get together to watch a major championship fight, playoff game, etc., we now do so and enjoy what we have gathered for – even though there is STILL a healthy dose of fire and ever burning emblems present! The love, friendship and respect that we have grown into, despite our radical differences is what I hope materializes for America as President Obama’s presidency ends and President Elect Trump prepares to take over.
I wish that the radical differences between Americans revealed in this election, were only as real as the surface level kind like those found in alcohol preferences and favorite sports teams. I wish also that the media stated primary reasons for these differences, generally presented as American discontent and disillusionment with the political establishment, were equally shared by most non Caucasian, liberal and Democratic Americans. Some Americans believe that these differences are grounded in much deeper reasons that have – more than a little – foundation in the historical evils and ignorances of racism, sexism and classism. Differenceby s and reasons which, when fermented and allowed many jell as one through the language used by President Elect Trump, seems to have a historical basis in hate, especially in light of and after an eight year Presidency the first African American President!
Like drinking differences and differences in professional sport teams, I hope and pray that Americans can come together to love, share and respectfully disagree with each others in the absence of real hate, like on SuperBowl Sunday each year. I hope, that regardless of the polar opposites and differing motivations for championing who and what we do, Americans will somehow work, celebrate and go forward together in love, like that realized by rabid football fans during SuperBowl week or even like alcohol lovers at a party. I hope that the world, which has rioted and protested in an unprecedented manner over the election’s results, will sit back happily stunned at the willingness of Americans to join together in true friendship these next four years – and in President elect Trump’s Presidency. I hope and pray that, despite what “the facts” seem to reveal or how they can be interpreted and presented, that President Elect Trump will govern respectfully for all Americans. My prayer is that all Americans can join as one, “disagreeing but not being disagreeable,” to truly join as one nation in love, respect and true friendship, like me and my friend Verlon. This may seem like a dream to some, but big dreams can become very real realities with prayer and lots of hard work. Lets fall on our knees praying together in hope, working hard in the mean time, to truly realize a ‘greater America and world’ in the language of Trump’s campaign slogan.