i never let it stop me. it didn’t matter to me the title someone held or the notoriety they had. i always reminded myself that this person i needed to call or meet with or contact was human. “this person breathes in and out, just like i do,” i would think. i felt this person – whoever it was – must have some human quality in common with me, regardless of a possible overly-amplified ego or the protected life bubble they might live within. “it matters not,” my momma, a lover of language, would say. in the end, nothing really separated me from this person, him or her, human-wise.
and so, my slightly-dialed-back-new-york chutzpah would dial the phone and expect nothing less than speaking with the person i was calling, no matter what rung on the ladder that person clung to, no matter how high the ladder, no matter the pecking order or the person’s perception of self.
because: people. we are all people.
now there’s a starting point.
but you wouldn’t know that looking at this country these days.
my sweet momma would be 99 today as i write this. 99. even in her time on this planet – which devastatingly ended five years ago now – she had seen a lot of change. “it matters not,” she would say. we are where we are. she read, she researched, she asked questions. and she always arrived at the same place: people are people and should be – in the crux of all things – equally treated as such. period.
empty words ticked momma off and she warned me of people who would talk the talk but not walk it. her sixth sense of intuition was often caution enough in friendships and relationships where people would get all virtuous and principled and, yet, be the same people who could clearly not see the irony in their supposed loftiness, the empty in their words, the do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do-ness, the falsity in their stance.
my momma, our beaky, subscribed to kindness. it would be to her horror to see the hateful rhetoric nowadays. she would have no patience for it. she would point to the horrors that hatred had produced in years past. she would state in simple terms: “it matters not,” she’d say, “be kind to each other. in all things, be kind.”
if momma were here today, she’d wear a mask. not because she would be in a high-risk category, but because it is the kind thing to do. a lover of math and science, she would point to the words of scientists, researchers, epidemiologists, medical professionals and she would insist on listening to them. “it matters not what you think,” she’d point out. “what matters is what they know.”
if momma were here today, she might protest. she’d point to inequity and ask what we could do about it. she’d not draw lines of color or race or gender or sexual orientation or economic status. “it matters not. people are people,” she’d insist. she’d wonder at a country, with so many smart people, continuing to head down such a dark road. she’d question, she’d challenge, she’d debate, she’d be stalwart and she would hold steadfast to being kind. period.
it may be oversimplification, but gus had it right in my big fat greek wedding. “apple and orange…we all different, but, in the end, we all fruit.” he and my momma would have been grand friends.
because in the end, we are all human. we breathe in, we breathe out. we can reject hate; we can choose to love. nothin’ wrong with a little oversimplification.