The list could be endless, but I have decided that I will focus on only one New Year’s resolution this year and that is to say Hello in Spanish to the Latino workers who I pass by on the streets of the village where I live.
Here is the back story to my resolution.
Years ago, we moved to where we live now from a small city in Wisconsin.
In Wisconsin, you were expected to acknowledge those whom you walked by on the streets whether you knew them or not. When we moved to Bedford we brought that assumption with us. Walking down the street we acknowledged and said Hello to those whom we passed by. No one said Hello back to us. Most looked down or looked away or looked right through us. At first we thought it was because we were new to the community. Now we realize it is just a part of the culture in the communities in and around New York City. But we still don’t like it.
A few days before Christmas, I passed by and nodded my head at a Latino landscape worker who was walking from his truck to the local deli. Seeing my smile he responded with a timid Hello. As a result of that exchange I realized that if it was hard for me when others passed by me without acknowledging I was there, how hard must it be for the those who are new, not only to our community, but to our country and for whom English is not their primary language. If I felt ignored and sometimes “looked through” when I walked down the street, they must feel the same way many times over. For me, the response of others is cultural. For them, it is exclusionary.
I realized I needed to be a better job at practicing what I preach.
I preach about the importance and value of community.
I preach about the most important religious question we must ask and answer is: Who is my neighbor?
I preach that in God’s Kingdom come all will have enough and all will have a place.
And, that can happen…
And needs to happen…
Right outside my front door. Literally.
My saying Buenos Dias reminds me and includes them in the circle of my neighborhood.