In Search of Decency
“You people trip me out. The coffee machine is broke again?! Oh my God, it shouldn’t be this hard to find a good cup of coffee. Now I’m going to be late for nothing and instead of helping me, you were too busy speaking that language of yours to that guy over there. This ain’t Mexico, this is America!” a man huffed.
“I’m sorry sir. I…”
“Why am I even wasting my time in this damn good for nothing store. And while you’re at it, go back to where you came from you. Ugh, you know what? Never mind. You aren’t even worth my time. Get out of my way, I’m late for work, and one more thing, I hope he builds that wall. Yea I said it. Maybe then, the people who could really help me, could have these jobs,” the angry man shouted before leaving.
Martin, had no words for what had just occurred. It all seemed to happen so fast. At first he tried to brush it off, but the more he thought about it, the more angrier he became. It was only Martin’s third day on the job and he already had a run in with an ignorant customer. Stokely’s Market happened to be situated a few blocks west of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. New York City, of all places was supposed to be a melting pot, Martin thought to himself. After calming himself down, he began to slowly get back to work. Martin was the son of hard working Puerto Rican parents, who taught their son to always take pride in who he was. The Rodriguez family came to America two generations ago, led by his great grandfather, who believed America held the key to prosperity for his family.
In recent times, uncomfortable hate filled exchanges have been more prevalent and it disturbed the likes of Mr. Lewis, a well respected older Black gentleman, who happened to be a staple in the community. Every morning, he ventured into Stokely’s Market to talk sports with the owner, William Stokely who hadn’t arrived just yet. Mr. Lewis saw what happened from the back of the store and didn’t like it one bit. By the time, he reached the front, the man had already left but his negative cloud still lingered long after he walked out of the door. Mr. Lewis, noticed Martin lost in his thoughts and decided to talk with him.
“Young man, don’t let his words get to you. I don’t know what has gotten into people these days,” he said with his hand on Martin’s shoulder. “You know, I thought we’ve progressed as a country, but I guess not. I’ve heard it all in my day, and come to think of it, sometimes I still do. We’ve got a long way to go.”
”I’m alright Mr. Lewis. Thank you. It is what it is,” Martin said poorly pretending to be un-phased. “That ignorant man, ain’t shit to me.”
“Just making sure. I’ll be back in a few to play my numbers. I’m feeling lucky today,” Mr. Lewis said with a big smile.
Martin smiled back and shook Mr. Lewis hand. “Alright Mr. Lewis, share some of the winnings with me if you win.”
Mr. Lewis, let out a chuckle and nodded. “Sure thing son, sure thing. Tell Stoke, to give me a call when he get’s in. I’ve got to talk to him about that Durant trade.”
“You got it, Mr. lewis.”
I write this piece today in a state of conscious perplexity. America’s moral compass is in dire need of recalibration. It has taken me some time to wrap my head around all of the events that have oozed to the forefront over the past few years. Social media comments under current events, negative news cycles and words shared casually in conversation have been uncomfortable. Did human decency go into hiding? Has decency packed it’s bag and boarded the first flight out of society? It’s obvious we’re witnessing in real-time, the decay of morality, love and all things related to any form of civility. None of us are above reproach, however what we see unfolding right before our eyes is a perpetual disregard of human life. We should be sounding the alarm, this has reached crisis proportions, and has been for sometime now.
As a Black man, I am intimately aware of America’s original sin, and it’s generational effect on my people. I live this life through the eyes of a proud Black man, so I am acutely aware of how society can turn up it’s nose toward marginalized groups of people. As my short story above illustrated, people in our society have become quite comfortable openly disregarding the lives and experiences of people who are vastly different. I find it disturbing and unsettling that in 2019 this school of thought is still widely accepted and distributed. You don’t have to venture very far to find folks who bathe in hatred and sip the bitter cup of dissension. This is vile and reprobate. If you have an ounce of empathy within you, you should all forms inequality and hate of any kind repulsive. If you can turn a blind eye to the oppression of others, both physically or systematically, you contribute to this dangerous cycle of discord. I’ve seen people (and churches) who tout their love for God, but support policies that blatantly, at times passively, and most certainly carelessly, feeds the system that has an insatiable thirst for people of color. You are a part of the problem if you look the other way.
This issue of human decency won’t be remediated by political parties and legislative policies. At the core my friend, this is not about politics, this is about decency. Humanity as a whole suffers from something much deeper than the eye can see. The absence of love, understanding, and respect lights the flame that fuels the issues we face today. Hate furthers discord, while love contributes to healing and restoration. Respect causes one to value the ideas, boundaries and personal space of others even if you may not agree with everything they say. Empathy and compassion allows one to see things from the other person’s point of view. Love is what binds us all together at the core. It is love that cleanses away the filth of hatred. We don’t have to agree, but we must learn to see the value in every persons unique soul. Each one of us plays a part in the recalibration of this damaged moral compass. It is my hope that one day decency may be restored, but until then, let us each do our part to lift up one another.