Words Unspoken

Yesterday, as I was waiting on customers, a woman in a hijab came through my line. I asked her to wait a moment so I could finish up with my current customer. Before I grabbed a pair of gloves I said,

“Before I start, I have a question for you.” I’m not sure what went through her mind in that split second, but I know the look on her face was unsure and borderline scared. “The lady before you had a ham sandwich-would you like me to get new knives?”

Her face immediately lit up-and all fear was gone. “Yes please, that would be great.”

So I go to the back and grab new knives, put on a fresh pair of gloves and make sure that I made their food without contaminating it. I made sure they knew when I switched stations that it was a new knife there as well-just in case they hadn’t seen me set it on fresh wrapper. When I rang her out, she said

“I just wanted to say thank you. It’s very rare to find anyone who will accommodate us.”

A million things ran through my mind to say, but all that came out was “It’s no problem at all.” You see, what I wish I had said was:

I’m so sorry that it’s rare to be treated as a human being, with equality and kindness. I’m not an expert at much, but I know that getting between you and your god isn’t going to do me any favors with me and mine, and it just makes me an asshole. If taking five seconds out of my day to get extra knives means that you can find peace at the end of your life, then I am so happy it was me you got as your server tonight. I know the media sees you and your religion as a threat, but I see you as people. I know you just wanted a sandwich and I want you to know that I did my best. I want you to know that it’s never an inconvenience to be a decent person-because I know the power of kindness. And I want you to know that just as Da-esh does not represent you in any way, so too am I not represented by the man who holds the title of president and his racist allies.

I wish I’d told you about how I went to a Ramadan feast and it opened my mind and heart to see strangers offering me food-even though they hadn’t eaten all day. About how I though your hijab was absolutely beautiful and that it complimented your skin tone really nicely.

I wish I’d had said these things, but all I said was that it wasn’t a problem. And it wasn’t. I just wish you knew why.

We The People

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

-The Declaration of Independence 4 July 1776

                                                 

These words race like lightning through my mind today. Over the course of this election cycle, we have seen the most disgraceful behavior from the people who are most likely to lead our country for the next four years. No matter which side you support (if any!), you have seen it too. And I suppose that is why these words echo so loudly. This is as political as I will get, but what I have to say needs to be heard, by both Democrats and Republicans alike, as well as the Independent, Green and other parties. 

If we, as Americans, contemplate (seriously or joking) moving to a different country to seek political asylum, or just to remove ourselves from the tyranny of a president (which we elect) then we are not using our rights to their fullest capacity, nor are we engaging in the very foundations of Americanism. If our first response is to pack it in and flee, that we may escape to a land of freedom, then we are the ones who are responsible for the decline and ultimately the destruction of American values, freedoms and the enduring ideal of “land of opportunities”. 

It is our right, our duty, as citizens of this nation to ensure the continuation of values for our posterity. Those values are not left behind in the lands of our forefathers, they are alive in the hearts of the patriotic, the just and the open armed. To let slip the rights of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, unalienable rights which were given to us by no less than an act of desperation, of treason and of great courage. These rights are defended by similar attitudes by the members of our armed forces. And if we allow ourselves to become enslaved by the very government we elect, America will be lost.

                                  

The paragraph that I quoted at the very beginning is from the Declaration of Independence. It was written 239 years, 7 months and 16 days ago. People don’t speak like this anymore. But they should. And pay attention to those words, which become more relevant every day. I will do my best to “translate” into everyday 21st Century language, just so the words do not go without understanding. 

“When a government becomes destructive (to its people), it is the right of the people to make a new government which will provide a better access to safety and happiness. The government should not be extremely altered without good cause, because all might suggest that it is too hard on them without just provocation. But in the event that the actions of the government are documented as being abuses of power, and seeks to reduce its people to a state of being completely powerless, oppressed by the very government which was designed to give them freedom then it is the right of the people, the duty of the people to rebel against such government, forming a new government which protects their liberties instead of uses their liberties against them.”

So although this is a political post, I have done my best to remain as unbiased in my thoughts as possible. But I urge you, fellow Americans, to rethink what it is that makes America so free, so great. What is it that caused your forefathers to immigrate here? What caused them to stay? And if the answer makes no sense today, isn’t true today, then it is our duty to reclaim those liberties, those freedoms for our own and the generations to follow. Make America the nation which opens its arms to others, celebrating the freedoms of not only citizens, but the freedoms and rights afforded to all human beings. Let us be a beacon of hope for those who have none. Let us be a shining example of what it means to be a democracy. Let us take back our government, our country, our home. May freedom ring, may equality prevail and may our country be blessed with common sense, a sense of duty and brotherhood.

               

(These are the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty.)

  
(This is where my blog title comes from. I know it is the U.S. Constitution and not the Declaration of Independence, but this is in NOW WAY less important.)