SideWalk Ghosts/ Interview 282: “Nice Hat!”

The world is an awesome planet. I’m driving down the street and when arriving at a stop sign I notice the gentleman in the vehicle next to me is wearing a fedora that is much similar to the one I’m wearing. But even more appreciated is the warm greeting he gestures with the tip of his hat, and rolling down his window, he compliments, “Nice Hat!”

Right then and there I know this is a true neighbor of life and that it is important that we meet this man. We have a very brief car-to-car discussion and within minutes we find ourselves parked in the little baseball field just off the busy street where we first met.

It is unsolicited gesture of kindness like this that proves to me that humankind has the potential to become a gregarious and loving people, a premise that 365 has burned deeply into both my mind and heart.

Not saying that we are on path to be a global government or homogenized society. For our diversity is what makes us rich and magnificently unique. What I am say is this, that in our own communities or in our travels, do we view one another we love and acceptance, without preconceived notions of the negative, but with optimism is seeking our similarities as species human.

And tonight as I aimlessly drive, an unknown friend has done just that, reduced the size of our community with the simplest of gestures, a hat tip and a smile. And as minute as it may seem, the humble acknowledgement has brightened my day more than I can accurately express.

I’m on the receiving side of kindness today, and to tell you the truth, I needed to be here today. It is for this reason I write this with the utmost gratitude and honor for my new friends: Rom, his daughter Anne, son Tom and their young friend Yoadd.

I love this project, it has been a life changer for me; and, my dreams it that it is the same for you. It’s about real everyday people with real-life concerns and experiences. My hope is that from it none of us will ever look at the world the same.

Rom and his children are very a family, and have proven again to us the power within the realms of caring for our neighbors. Their enthusiasm for life and love of the world is evident not only in their countenance but in their literal words.

I’ve coined a phrase, “The silent majority.” In it I am referring to us, the everyday people. For after speaking with so many strangers turned friends, I am realizing that the greater population of us, “real-people,” are all saying the same thing. “We want to get along, be loved and respected for who we are and desire to know that the children will have a safe world to live in. A world with less oppression, less governmental control, and the opportunity to safely live, love and worship, as we desire. Trust me I am not trying to get political, but I just found a quote from the late Ronald Reagan. Whether you approve of his late administration or not, his thought strikes resonance. He stated this, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”

Call it a dream or not, but we are the silent majority, and we have the power to build our communities into loving safe havens. It takes not much to be effective in uplifting each other, like for me this evening. I was a little down, but through the tip of a hat from an unknown man my life became much richer. The lesson is there to be learned, and the tuition is free to all. The fee…? Only a sincere smile and a warm heart towards our neighbors. My hope, that we all receive our Master’s degree from the University of Planet Earth (UPH).

Let class begin!

Youthful Instructor Anne takes the podium.

“At school I’m part of the recycling club, and I want to tell everyone to go green.”

She describes her definition of world, “It’s called a community.” Out of the mouths of the children. We have to ask ourselves in checking our outlooks on the youth: Who is the wiser? The old… or the young? And are we listening?

Professor Tom addresses the student body.

“Always stay positive and be happy about what you have, because if everyone becomes negative… then neighbor will turn on neighbor, and the world won’t be a happy place.”

Dean Ram sets the tone for his faculty and all visiting students.

“We should never prejudge anyone, not by color, not religion, not by where we come from. Just be good people, the rest will come from self.”

Visiting student, family friend Yoadd contributes to the curriculum.

“Everyone should be happy with one another. Live life to it’s extreme because it is short… and kind of fun.”

Four distinct views, four sets of suggestions for us all to consider and four lists of concerns and advice that has become a constant within the over 1000 people who have conversed with us in 365.

We shift to the future in part two of our educational workshop.

Again instructor Anne starts the ball rolling.

“The word war will go away and everyone in the world will come together as one big family, and they will notice that no matter how someone looks or is, as long as they respect you and you respect them, we can all be like one family.”

Professor Tom concurs.

“How you look and what you do now will be less important. People will be more thinking about what you do for the whole world, not as much how important you are, but how important you are to everyone else.”

Ram looks at his faculty with loving eyes, but grounds them with a challenging mountain to overcome.

“I’m really, really scared about the level of communication between people. As of today: I love you, I miss you, I need you, is gone. Everything is texting, everything is computerized and the feelings, the emotions, are dissipating from the world. Everything is very technical and I’m really, really scared. I think in ten years it is going to be much worse. I’m afraid parents will not communicate with their kids, kids will not communicate with their friends. They barely do today. Honestly, I think it is going to get worse.”

Instructor Anne contributes to the dean’s comments.

“I see it two ways… Technology, it could be a good thing and a bad thing, like my dad said, people will talk to each other less. Like on their computer or iPad or something. That’s what makes their life… and their life evolves around that.

It is also good for contacting someone or finding someone. We are definitely going to go more green and technology will help that.

But if life totally revolves around your phone or your computer or something like that, that will mess up your life.”

Visiting student Yoadd queues in on the environment.

“Technology will definitely be more advanced, especially when it comes to saving the planet and going green.”

Something is going on right at UPH. And I must credit Dean Ram for his leadership and example to us all. Its youthful faculty is on fire in training itself, and I hope us, to be active in working towards a better future while strengthening our existing communities. Through their example and words today, I know one thing first hand.

I was tired, I was missing being home with my family and I was clueless as to where to journey to meet a friend. And at the particular moment that I let go of my self-control in submitting to whatever is to come, a hat is tipped to me. Call it fate, call it coincidence or call it anything you wish.

Whatever the cause… and trying to not be selfish, I must say, THANK YOU to my new friends, our well has been filled.

For who knew that in the parking lot of a quite little baseball in the burbs of the San Fernando Valley, I would encounter the wisdom of future leaders and the man who is planting the seeds.

And best of all, UPH is open registration with no limits to enrollment. Better yet, it courses are self-created and at will to your development. Consider today the day of orientation and with you at the center of the lecture hall, UPH permissions you, without any limitations, to open your own annex campus wherever you are.

Good luck class of 2012, we are with you.

Lest we never forget, “We are in this thing together.”