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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Harmony in the heartland

A few years ago, "Denny's" was sued for racial insensitivity. No one else will report a story that cuts the other direction, but they're out there. I found such a story tonight in Indianapolis.

It was my 42nd birthday, and for my party my wife and two sons took me out to "Golden Corral." After we'd loaded our plates higher than we probably should have, we sat and began to feast in a restaurant that was jammed with customers, even though it was late (7:30 p.m.) I looked at the faces around me. What did I see? Off to the left was a white family with toddlers, and beside them a black family. Both families had mom and dad present. I saw a single Anglo man conversing with a Korean and his several children. The four black women to my right smiled at me, and were happy to pass me a sugar packet for my coffee. Our server was a young black man, very efficient. Everyone that I heard addressed him as "sir" and when asking for things said "please." At another table I heard Spanish being spoken. Laughter was in the house.

After eating for ten or so minutes, I looked across the table at my wife and asked her: "Do you see what I see all around us?" She'd noticed, too. "I feel so good here," I said. "This is how it's supposed to be." Our family of four paid about $ 50.00 with the tip for that meal. Others likely paid about the same. Something right is happening with our economy, and whatever it is, it's colorblind.

Later tonight, I walked with my son in the downtown area. Two police officers passed on horseback, patrolling the area near the military park. They were engaged in easy conversation. One was white, one was black. It turned no heads; it's just too normal.

Earlier in the day, I chatted with a young man from Texas. Next year, he'll be attending an all black university in East Africa. No big deal. He can save big bucks on his college education, and he wants to learn about a place in the world far different than the whitebread one where he grew up.

A birthday dinner, a park patrol, and a cloistered young man yearning for other perspectives. Three times today, I saw a glimpse of our better angels. You can't wrap it up with a bow, but that really doesn't matter. It was my best present of all.


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