Walking each other home

By Joanne Peterson | Jul 18, 2016

In my column two weeks ago I quoted words displayed in the Fifth Avenue South shop window of C’est la Vie: “We are all just walking each other home.”

I wrote: “We are to claim community with one another, to look out for each other … with acknowledgement of shared humanity, no labels, no judging.” Well, sometimes it’s difficult not to label and not to judge, isn’t it?

I’ve often been thankful that I am not in charge of judging anyone else – and labels never do anybody any good, do they? We are more alike than we are different, as difficult as that sometimes is to comprehend.

And at our best, perhaps even at our worst, we are all just walking each other home.

I concluded my column: “I believe we are designed to respond to one another, sometimes in joy but often – perhaps most often – in sorrow, confusion or despair. We are meant to notice one another’s pain, to lean upon one another’s strengths, to shore up one another’s courage when it wanes.”

These are tough times, for sure. Racial tensions. Nationwide protests. Gunfire. Violent death. Fear. Child abuse. Politicians of dubious potential. Then again, there’s nothing new on that list, is there?

And peaceful people still step in to bring calm where there is conflict, forgiveness when wrong has been done to them or to their loved ones, positive action in the face of possible defeat.

I’ve been thinking about Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager who perished in a Nazi extermination camp but whose “Diary of a Young Girl” lives on. She wrote of her feelings while in hiding with her family.

Certainly aware of the terrible – and brief – future they likely faced, she clung to the belief that people are good at heart. That’s a difficult concept in today’s climate, too, but I still believe it.

Last week, eloquent Nobel Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel died. Wiesel, who wrote over 40 books, was best known for “Night,” a harrowing account of his internment as a teenager at Auschwitz.

The book continues to make a lifelong impression on millions of readers worldwide. At his memorial services, he was mourned as “one of the last firsthand witnesses to the Nazi atrocities.”

Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel live on through their words, and I am thankful for that.

I think most everyone is exhausted from watching national news: violence and more violence, bloody shirts and burning buildings, bickering politicians, jittery stock market, homeless and hungry families, physical and emotional abuse – bad news, night after night.

But there is good news, too, always good news. There are families rejoicing at military homecomings, neighborhoods bonding to keep streets safe, young people performing heroic rescues or qualifying for the Olympics.

There are tiny panda cubs, a baby born last night in a taxi, a choral concert, a lottery winner, hundreds of new voters registered, a new development toward conquering cancer, volunteers preparing meals for the homeless.

And through the past, present and future? We are all just walking each other home.

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