I was in the checkout line at my neighborhood grocery store New Seasons. This Portland-based store has come to the wooded Seattle suburb of Mercer Island, a foot-shaped island that until recently offered two QFCs . New Seasons took the place of an icky Albertson's and what a joy to have a beautiful, (even though pricey) supermarket close by. I call it the "Four Seasons."
People who work there are incredibly friendly and happy. If you bring your own shopping bag, they give you beans to donate to one of three charities that go toward: Hunger, Education, Environment, and the company chips in for every bean. So whenever I go shopping and drop $100 on a daily bag of odds-and-ends groceries, I am doing public service too. Bonus!
Back to the check out line. The woman at the cash register is tall with long dense hair, African-American, strong features, gold flashes of jewelry. She is always friendly, makes eye contact, asks how you're doing. She looks like she's on the trans spectrum; I see her as a male who is choosing female. She stands apart from the crowd in the homogeneous suburb where I live and I always feel happy when I see her. There's a button on her shirt that says "Love Everyone." As she scans my items I focus on the button. I am staring just long enough--and since I'm practicing a new talk-to-everyone agenda--that I comment. "I like your button."
The cash register woman's smile lets loose and another employee standing near by hears me and moves in. "Oh yes, love love love" this second woman says and takes a big sigh. The checkout lady looks at her and they roll their eyes a bit and something in their gesture is filled with giddiness. They shrug, smile and high five each other.
"It's a good way to live," I say, to join their good-will circle.
My cash register friend looks at me, nods with that smile of hers and points to my glittery bird purse. "That's so cute!"
I LOVE EVERYONE, RIGHT?
Um, well . . . in my dreams maybe. Here's the thing:
When I see the button "Love Everybody"--I see it as an instructive reminder for OTHER PEOPLE. I mean DUH, this button is for those types of people who aren't open-minded or accepting as I am of people who are different from me. "Love Everybody" is a directional phrase to anyone who thinks people should be a certain way, act a certain way, look a certain way--and if not, they are the receivers of wrath, discrimination, prejudice, fewer resources and services and less respect, you name it.
I NEED THE REMINDER TOO!
Then something struck me. Why do I think the button isn't speaking directly to me, too? I might have voted for gay marriage and believe in the freedom and rights of transgendered. I've donated to immigrant organizations, the Souther Poverty Law Center, ACLU, Planned Parenthood--so, what? Do I think I'm immune from needing a "Love Everybody" button reminder?
Am I not also filled with dislike/seeds of hatred/prejudice against people whose views of the world don't align with mine?
What if the thought of loving some of these people is as hard for me to wrap my mind-heart around as it is for these people to wrap their mind-heart around loving the people I want them to love, like the lady at the cash register who is asking for love?
I pushed my shopping cart out the front door dizzy with my new perspective. I went from feeling self-righteous in my humanity and whole-heartedness to seeing myself as love-challenged as anybody.
Can you love everybody? It's a mighty tall order. But what if that was the vision--the moon shot to aim for.
This could mean showing a bit of support for a challenging relationship. Not hating--even feeling neutral can be a jump up--about someone who makes me rage and have killing dreams. Pulling back my judgments about some of the humans who are, er, um, in positions of political power making decisions I don't agree with. SNORT. Breathe, breathe.
"Love everybody" could mean anything. From showing a bit more compassion for a difficult colleague or client; to giving your insecure and compulsive boss your full attention with the intent of pulsing some love her way.
Any one of us, at any moment, can rip open a thread of light into our world, let a little more love in--or to start, let a little dislike out.
Let's narrow this vast divide. One little heartbeat at a time.