A day after the seismic shock of Donald Trump’s surprise victory, I sat at a table outside my favorite eatery pondering where we go from here as a nation. For the winners, the election was a windfall opportunity to turn the country on a dime. For the losers, the hard reality that not only did they lose the contest, but that their world vision was rejected by half their countrymen.
As a Republican, I should have been feeling smug. No more taxing the rich to support universal healthcare and “economic equality”. I wanted to feel vindicated. People will once again be required to make their own way in this world, I thought.
But, something was amiss. I couldn’t put my finger on it.
That’s when I looked up to see an old Hispanic gentleman standing by my table. His khaki pants and blue work shirt were frayed but clean. Atop his gray head was a U.S. Airforce baseball cap. He murmured something softly in Spanish and gestured toward my plate. I nodded thinking he was there to clear away my dirty dishes.
My heart sank when he reached down with his right thumb and forefinger and plucked four tiny carrots from my plate, one by one, carefully transferring them to the cupped fingers of his left hand. He touched the brim of his cap and walked away eating my leftovers.
I was stunned. I could have bought him a meal, but I was too slow to react.
I felt deflated. The man was going hungry. The shock of such a real-world tragedy quickly displaced in my mind the political tumult of the past few days.
I rose from the table and retraced his steps. I spotted him standing in a garden near a grove of red berried yaupon trees. Our eyes meet for a second, then he turned and disappeared among the low branches.
Now all I feel is shame. It took a hungry old man– the one I let slip away–to dispatch my obsession with political warfare and remind me that the problems of our nation are not Republican or Democratic, only painful.
We must find a better way.
Malcolm D. Gibson
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