Some of us need to cultivate the strength to yield

President* Trump,

This morning we took the dogs to Magnuson Park for the first time in probably five months, basically since COVID-19 really hit and it was clear that navigating the narrow trails with others wasn’t safe. Today we hiked a trail that’s at the far Southwest corner of the park, one that’s far less popular than the ones in the interior. It was glorious. I’d been wistfully thinking about going there earlier in the week, but it wasn’t until we were tromping up the steep path to the meadows that I realized how very much I’d missed being out there. It was a balm.

We did encounter other people up there. One woman jogger, two older women hiking, one older White man, and one older Japanese-American man. Guess which one didn’t yield, say thank you, or acknowledge our yielding or presence in any way? Take a wild guess. Ding, ding, ding – you are right! It was the older White man. Thankfully, everyone else – everyone else – was kind and voiced appreciation or made an effort to connect, human to human.

How sad to be that White man – he’s way missing out, adrift as he seems to be on his White man island. It must suck to still feel like you have to be stoic and disconnected, stubbornly independent while the world is crashing in around you. Maybe there’s a ‘la, la, la’ element complete with RNC-provided blinders going for those White men (and anyone else so afflicted) who can’t bring themselves to step into the wide spot on their side of the path to let others pass. Maybe there’s just so much prior training telling him that he has the right of way all the time that it just doesn’t occur to him to act any other way.

So how do you entitled White men figure out which of you is going to yield on a narrow path with the specter of spreading/catching a deadly virus hanging between you? When it’s finally determined who will do the stepping off the path is there some acknowledgement, some ‘thank you’ uttered or do you ignore each other so that the one who was bested (i.e., gave way) isn’t embarrassed or shamed and the one allowed to pass isn’t seen as gloating or prideful? I’m never there when these things happen so I don’t know.

Just to be clear –I know there are lots of White men who don’t think their worth or their manhood (could we get rid of that stone around humanity’s neck, please?) is tied up in whether they f*cking step out of the way to let someone else pass. It’s just that pretty much every time we’ve been out and about on foot since COVID hit, it’s the older White men (and no small proportion of younger White men) who stare straight ahead as though we aren’t there and who absolutely refuse to make space for us. And (clearly) I am sick of it.

This morning in her sermon, our pastor talked about how we have to have the courage to see and acknowledge the holy burning bushes that are everywhere around us – the grave instances of injustice that have our world alight and teetering. She told us we have to be brave (not fearless, but brave) and trust what our own eyes are telling us, what our hearts are telling us, and not look away.

I would add that we need courage to see and acknowledge one another, to make space for one another, to stop inflicting our privilege and entitlement on one another.

It’s really not that hard and the smiles and connections we get in return are wonderful.

May we be safe and secure enough to yield.
May we be willing to look into one another’s eyes, to see the burning bushes.
May we be strong and healthy enough to make space for everyone.
May we accept we are all truly in this together.

Tracy Simpson

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