Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Mother of Darkness (Part Two)

 (This is the second of two parts.  Please read Part One, published yesterday, before reading this.)

Her smile widens.

I understand,” She says. “Perhaps some more stories will help. Since you are from the United States, I will start there.” Her smile becomes sad. “In Billings, Montana, many years ago, a young Jewish boy put a paper menorah in his window. There were people in the town that didn't like that Jewish folks had moved to the neighborhood and threw a stone through the window and the menorah. The boy's father talked to the police who suggested that he put bars on the window. Then he talked with his neighbors who were outraged that this happened. Soon there were paper menorahs in the windows of hundreds of Christians in Billings, as well as in the windows of churches and the windows of the Catholic school. In a small town in Nova Scotia, more than a decade ago, a ninth grade boy wore a pink shirt to school on the first day of classes and got bullied for it. A couple of twelfth grade boys found out and bought as many pink shirts as they could and by the end of the week most of the senior boys were wearing pink shirts. In a Massachusetts suburb, a lesbian couple put a rainbow flag outside their home. They woke one day to find that someone tore it down. When the neighbors found out, there were soon dozens of rainbow flags flying in the neighborhood, most in front of homes where the occupants were heterosexuals.”

But...” you start to say, when She makes a gesture that beckons you to wait.

Not long after the Twin Towers fell, there were two bricks thrown through the windows of an Islamic bookstore in Virginia, with some very nasty notes attached. The store owner was looking at the mess when a local rabbi stopped by to see what he could do to help. Several Christian ministers also came by to help and an anonymous businessman paid for a new window to be installed. Five years after that, in Pennsylvania, a milk truck driver shot and killed five young Amish schoolgirls before killing himself. At his funeral, several of the Amish showed up to comfort the killer's widow and mother. They also donated money to help the widow with her three young children.” She pauses for just a moment.

And long ago, in Nebraska, a rabbi from New York City moved to a small synagogue to become the spiritual leader there. He soon started getting threatening anti-Semitic hate messages. He discovered that they were coming from the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Nebraska, who happened to be a disabled man. The rabbi responded by leaving loving messages for the Klan leader and offering him rides if he needed to go anywhere. It took quite a while, but eventually the KKK leader said that he wanted to give it up and started talking to groups about the perils of hatred. When he became ill, the rabbi and his wife took him in and nursed the man who had threatened them until he died.”

Those are nice stories,” you say, “but what do you want me to do?”

The word that you are looking for,” She says, “is kindness.” She is beaming now and a glow shines through her dark skin. “Be kind.”

You wake up and the sun is rising. It's dawn and the day is clear.

Dedicated to and in acknowledgment of the influence of four Black women:

Audre Lorde

Luisah Teish

Octavia Butler

and adrienne maree brown

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