A vision for a different world tonight, something to counter the fear and loathing scrolling by on my screen, just pixels away.
We’ve gotten to know our downstairs neighbors fairly well, a family of immigrants from Mali. They invited us to their daughter’s 3rd birthday party Sunday afternoon in Mt. Prospect Park. There were grills set up under a large tree, there was a soccer ball and a football and a little canopy with a card table for cupcakes and gifts. There were cousins and neighborhood kids running around and a cooler full of soda and Capri Sun, more than anyone could possibly drink.
We were clearly outsiders but we immediately felt welcome. The birthday girl introduced Charlotte to everyone as her best friend. We were strongly encouraged to take as many hot dogs, burgers, chicken, and chips as we could. I had no idea who was related to whom, but it didn’t matter. We felt like just another branch of a very extended family.
I saw people different from me in only the most superficial ways celebrating an important milestone in exactly the way our family would. I saw similarity and felt connection. I wanted everyone to have everything I have. I wanted them to experience life with a free range of motion, as I have, without the constraints imposed by demagogues. I wanted everyone at that party to have my America, if they wanted it.
This summer has offered incredible contrasts. We’re focused outwardly more than ever before, attuned to a wider range of tragedy, horror, and injustice. But there are also forces pulling us closer together. I feel a stronger sense of family, not just between the four of us but also with friends and neighbors in the same orbit. In looking both farther away and deeper within, I’m struck by how our hearts, stretched thinner than ever, are always capable of more.