In the sixties it was peace and love on one hand, the Vietnam War on the other. I was patriotic and ready serve. Yet, my favorite Beatles song was “All You Need Is Love.” That conflict became embedded in my psyche. It recently surfaced in an unusual way.
Her car was parked hard against the curb on the service road of a freeway. It was near the Galleria in Houston. The haute part of town. It was hot. A tire was flat. The jack lay on the concrete. Standing on the sidewalk, inches from the thundering traffic, stood a middle aged African American woman. She looked scared.
I pulled my sports car over in front of her old Ford, got out, and offered to help. She seemed surprised. Not what she expected from a white guy in a coat and tie.
“I’ll be fine,” she called out over the highway roar. “My son is on the way.”
I offered to wait with her in a safer spot. Her face melted into a smile.
“Really, I’ll be fine. But, thanks for stopping.”
As I started toward my car I felt a hand on my shoulder. When I turned, she hugged me.
Tonight I will watch the presumptive leaders of our country insult each other. Their supporters will boil over into violence. Each will claim to have the secret to our happiness and prosperity. They will be wrong.
Politicians have overlooked the fact that while we do business with our heads, we live with our hearts.
The freeway lady had it right. The key is a small word with broad reach.
The dictionary defines love as affection; unqualified and true. On that hot day by the highway, for her it meant hugging a stranger.
Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev observed, “The heart of another is a dark forest.” Impenetrable by the platitudes of politicians, it takes an individual act of brotherly love to open a path.
When the election is over, no matter the victor, campaign promises will wither. Thereafter, to live together in peace; to resolve life’s daily challenges; to sooth our own inner conflicts, we will have only ourselves to look to.
That could be enough if we remember the lesson taught us by the lady on the road.
All you need is love.
Malcolm D. Gibson
All Rights Reserved