All My Friends I Have Never Met.

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“Coming Home From Work”, color pencil on paper, 11″x 14″, 2017.

I am a team member at Whole Foods. I currently work in the prepared foods department and I am one of the people serving customers the food we make. In that roll I am one of the faces representing the company and as such I have to always try to be in a good mood and be nice to customers even when they act like ignorant, needy, spoiled kids. Thankfully most people are great, but every once in a while one comes around who just seem to be there to insult you and tell you how much they hate Whole Foods and what a shitty job you’re doing. I can see past that, knowing that it’s not me, but something lacking in this person’s life is causing him or her to act this way.

When I hand over the product the customer is purchasing, I usually tell them something like “Here you go my friend”and in my head I have played up a scene where a customer will reply “How do you know I’m your friend” or “I’m not your friend” or something like that.

My answer in that imaginary scenario is always: “Well, I’ve never met you before, so you can’t be my enemy.”

And that is how I believe we have to view the world. How can we think of someone we have never met, someone we know nothing about, as an enemy? How can we talk about an entire people or an entire religion as our enemy when we have never crossed paths with  them, or lived among them?

In my life so far, I have met a lot of people in a lot of different places. I met a lot of friends in my days as a travelling musician and I have met a lot of people who I feel are friends of mine since I moved to the US. I often think about places I have never been and I wonder who my friends are there that I haven’t met, that I may never meet. Maybe there’s a guy fixing cars in Tallahassee, Florida, who is a really good friend of mine? Maybe there’s a Muslim man from Iraq driving a cab in New York who I would become friends with if only we met? Surely there’s an older lady in Minnesota who could tell me some fascinating stories about her Swedish ancestors while making some amazing cookies and coffee that we could share sitting on her porch, overlooking the plains outside her family home?

There are friends all over the world that we will never meet. Why do so many of us think about the unknown as scary? Why do so many of us believe that those that are different from us automatically become our enemies? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t we consider all the strangers in the world our friends until, for some reason, they convince us that they are not?

You know – innocent until proven guilty…?

We live in some very dangerous times. Enemies are produced and presented to us on a daily basis. Today we should hate Mexicans, tomorrow our Muslim brothers and sisters. I believe it’s time to break that cycle and start thinking about everyone as our friend. Get to know a stranger and THEN decide whether or not he or she is an enemy, or maybe just somebody you really don’t like. And that’s OK. We can’t like everybody.

What we can do is treat everybody with respect. We CAN show everybody love.

We can.

Si se puede!

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About David Fridlund

Born in Sweden 1974. Moved to Austin TX in 2009 w my wife.
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