Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Amazing what you can learn in 15 seconds

Coming home from work at 7 tonight, I saw a school bus approaching in the dark. Since this is unusual, I looked closely to see if it was a Youth For Christ bus (they pick up at-risk youth in our area for their club meetings), and as I stood there, it became apparent that it was a regular high school bus. I turned to walk in my gate and someone on the bus yelled something at me. Instead of keeping on going into the house, I turned to see who said what, and then continued up the walk, at which point they yelled again. Again, ignoring better judgment, I turned and stared at the bus as several heads ducked down in the seat and a middle finger extended out the window. They continued to yell at me, I continued to look, and then I just waved. The bus pulled off with the kids cussing me out the rest of the way.

I was so confused. What had I done wrong? Why did they dislike me so much? I think that for the most part it was just high school kids being high school kids. But in my neighborhood, things never seem that simple. All the kids on the bus were black, and so I began to wonder if they yelled at me not just because they were high school kids but because I was white and I live in the nicest house on the block, complete with the All-American white picket fence.

I also thought, "Why don't they like me? I'm a nice guy. What did I do? How can I make them like me? Could i wait out there tomorrow and take some sodas onto the bus to prove that I am a good guy?" and "What if they remember me and they want to 'get me' later?" (hey, I am being honest here about what goes through my head; also, upon further reflection, I think that my fear was based as much in socio-economic difference than race difference, because I have been intimidated by white teens who roam my neighborhood, too) and "Why do I have to be so dumb as to stare them down at a point like that?"

In a very short "interaction", God revealed fear, stereotypes, a desire to be liked, and also just made me very sad that we live in a world where we just randomly hate and fear people that we don't know. Never a dull moment!


Macon said...

You can't forget the general juvenile joy at yelling at someone from a moving car and tossing the finger at them. Seriously, I never got this, even as a high schooler, but I knew lots of peers who thought this was just the greatest thing to do in a moving vehicle. (Sometimes I was in the car with them when they'd do this! *cringe*)

And it always seemed rather random to me. Kind of like, "Hey, they're someone on the street, let's cuss at them! That would be so fun!"

Marshall said...

Sometimes mine was the extended finger; double-cringe!

I know that what you say is true, and my multiple reactions to this time shows the layers of race and class differences that I sometimes have to wade through in my own heart.

melissa said...

I think it's times like that, that the Lord shows me how much I need Him in order to be at ease. Being ok with all my fears, knowing that as He brings them to surface, He can dismiss them, and I can see His glory revealed. But, never the less, even if it was just a "fun" teenage prank, I would have felt wounded, too. Especially when you're doing all you can to give to these same ones who would choose to curse you, literally. It reminds me of the verse that tells us to bless those who curse you, and pray for those who persecute you. You all are living that blessing, even if the reception of it may be cursing and persecution (even on a small scale)sometimes.