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Last night I watched the Miss America pageant with my wife and daughters. We were of course cheering for Miss Minnesota as she is from our home state. But we knew right from the start that Miss California and Miss New York were going to be hard to beat. They all displayed poise, grace, intelligence, and talent. These are all the things of Miss America and should be of all of us. Unfortunately, within minutes of announcing Miss New York had won, there were racists rants a plenty on twitter. Then this morning we woke to a shooting spree at a naval yard in D.C. This afternoon a friend posted this letter on facebook about a woman enduring discriminatory disdain from another while using an EBT (food stamps) card in the grocery store in our community.

These events reminded me about the time 20 years ago when I got in line behind a couple with a young child at a grocery store in St. Paul. As they were checking out it became apparent they did not have enough money for all of their groceries. So they started working with the cashier to take out certain groceries to get down to the amount they could afford. They were well dressed Hmong immigrants who spoke very little English (none of which should matter). They were buying great whole foods (no junk) and obviously distressed at the situation, but very polite. I could have gotten impatient, angry, violent or even discriminatory as we've witnessed by the events of the last 24 hours. But, after about six or seven items were removed I turned to the cashier and said put the items back, I will pay for them. She was stunned. The couple in disbelief started shaking their heads in thanks. As they left and kept thanking me, the cashier just said over and over that I was an angel sent from heaven and she had never seen the likes of that and it was a miracle. I told her thank you and as I drove away I thought to myself I am no angel and this was not a miracle. It was just a little kindness.

I'm so tired of the shooters, and the racists, and the discriminators, and the hate mongers defining who we are. It is time to pick up our collective selves, stand against hatred and oppression, challenge intolerance, and start acting like the human beings we have the potential to be. Angels and miracles? I'll settle for poise, grace, intelligence, and talent...oh, and a little kindness.

 


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