Cross-cultural-country trip


Early this summer, I took a 2-week trip with my friends Gregory, Sean, Raul, Vincent and Omar through many states to visit their hometowns. It was a blast.

First stop: South Dakota, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument. I asked Native Gregory how he responds to some Indian objections to those 4 men carved on Rushmore. He said, “Mike, many of my comrades get upset about US history, but I center on positive moves like the Crazy Horse recognition.” While visiting Crazy Horse, we other 5 reveled in witnessing Gregory’s pride brilliantly shining forth.

Onto San Francisco, Sean’s hometown. I asked Sean, who is trans, if there is a ‘trans-agenda’ that I keep hearing about. He said that there are a variety of agendas. He told us that his is moderate; he does not buy into pride parades and demonstrations. He says that the parades are almost counter-productive to any trans or gay agendas because they concentrate on shock. He told us that demanding this or that just creates hassles and unwanted enemies. With us, by choice, Sean dressed as male.

From there, El Paso, Raul’s home. There we met his parents and many relatives. His parents shared their immigration story some 3 decades ago, how they did it legally and were such proud American citizens. They did well in business and respected American law; they keep their Mexican traditions and are very displeased with the constant flow of illegal crossings flooding the borders.

Next stop, Rock Hill, SC, Vincent’s hometown and of my college friend, the Rev. Dr. Roger Lakatos, a retired pastor and MD and the current director of a senior center there which is primarily used by black townsfolk, many in Vincent’s family. Roger told us that Black Lives Matter rebels defaced and damaged the facility 4 times in the last year. Vincent and his family were not pleased. Vincent’s family members belong to several organizations fighting social injustices without blaming or intimidation.

Last stop, Manchester, New Hampshire, Omar’s home. We met his family, all immigrants from Iraq who fled in the past 30 years to escape persecution, some as Christians and some as Muslims. They were so grateful to be in the US. All of his family and their neighbors get along peacefully. They told Sean that his life in the Middle East would be in jeopardy because of his sexual orientation.

By the trip’s end, we realized that politically we covered the spread totally, but the whole journey had become a true, sincere Kum Ba Yah experience. All six of us now live in harmony and peace; we ‘buy into’ America despite its flaws; we see it as the grandest democracy and country ever and work peaceably for change. We build, do not tear down. Let’s all do that. Let’s make America great — now — no transformation necessary.

Mike Olson



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