Steve runs private karaoke shows from time to time. This past weekend happened to be one of those times. We have a friend who was celebrating not only his 50th birthday, but 25 years in business, as well.
We have attended a few parties thrown by this gentleman. All very nice parties, ranging from a simple, quiet house party to a big 'do' thrown at a local up-scale hotel. This was the first, however, where he mixed business with pleasure, and as we had previously only attended the business parties, we got to see a more personal side of our friend.
The party had about 150 attendees... a mix of business associates, employees and family. The birthday boy happens to be, originally, from India, so there was a beautiful blend of cultures, as well. Indian food (which happens to be my favorite and not as easy to come by here as other cuisines, so I was in heaven!), music and attire permeated the festivities. It was simply gorgeous!
Throughout the evening, Steve and I shared our usual antics... we like, as much as the next guy, to sit in our little space and chat about the event and / or the people. For instance, at one point in the evening, Steve leaned over to me and said, quietly under his breath, as he nodded toward the Man of the Hour (hereafter referred to as Mr. Smith - not his real name), "I wonder how long since he was fifty?" I nearly spat out my drink! We do that... usually, it's Steve piping up with one of his little remarks and me giggling, sometimes much louder than I should. Oh, and by the way, we're both quite sure that Mr. Smith really *did* just turn 50.
The evening turned a bit different for me. As Steve was playing the music, I sat next to him just watching. Just taking in the beauty of it all. As people would come along to request a different song or pop up to see about singing, I'd casually chat to them just about everyday kind of stuff. I met many of Mr. Smith's family members, from the two-year-old great-niece who, while she looked simply stunning in her sari, just couldn't keep her eyes open past 11:00, to the Uncle who was trying desperately to manage the music the teenage girls were dancing to.
What happened between the time we arrived to the time we left was that I had a wonderful evening. As Steve and I were chatting on the ride home about the party, we delved into the obvious cultural differences that were present at this very enjoyable evening we had just experienced. What I'm not so far removed from are people, whom I've since eliminated, best as I can, from my life, who would have been aghast at that party. People who would just as soon wish tragedy upon people I had engaged with that night. To go a little deeper, as I was questioning the racial hatred that infiltrates society, Steve pointed out that there are people who would have bombed that party tonight, simply because they are different... "there'd be a few less of 'em", they'd say.
I lost it. Completely and utterly lost it. What in the world could be so bad about being different that one person, or a group of people, could damn an entire culture... kill an entire race? What? Which threw me into an oracle of what in the hell can I do? What difference can I make to the people who simply want to be with their families, but can't because of something like political asylum? What kind of impact could I possibly hope to have on that?
I concluded that, actually, I can't impact those issues. But what I can do is continue to be the best person I can be and hope to pass those qualities on to my children. That is my contribution.
And I can celebrate monumental steps like the case of Loving vs Virginia. Today marks the 40th anniversary in which the US Supreme Court ruled the way which ended racial discrimination in marriages in the United States completely.
Unfortunately, some parts of society have yet to catch up with the past forty years. There are many places in the United States where interracial relationships, let along marriages, are disparaged to such degrees that people still face physical violence for simply falling in love.
Alone, I can't really do much, except to continue to embrace my 'awakenings'. If it means going against that which surrounds me, so be it. I've never understood hate and bigotry and I never will.