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16:47:22 Thu
Oct 14 2010

671 posts

Mood Now: Airheaded

Non-Partisan Helping Hands:

Just how all of the contents were disgorged from the cab of the aging red pickup isn't known. But there they were spread out in the street in inglorious disarray.

It was 6:25 Saturday evening at the intersection of Broadway and Mulberry, and out in the street were boxes, a large barbecue grill, a tall metallic-looking object and some other things.

The occupant(s) of the pickup put the hazard lights on and began the hard and embarrassing task of retrieving the items.
Then, something happened.

People, all strangers, presumably, rushed from businesses and corners to help. Some, including a young man who was a passenger in a car, got out of vehicles and ran to the intersection and started picking things up. There was little hesitation as people saw someone in need and quickly decided to help.

About eight people at the intersection of Broadway and Mulberry picked, lifted and worked together to clean up the street and put the truck's contents back in place. Drivers in vehicles from all four directions at the stoplight who saw what was happening were patient and didn't blow their horns.

But something didn't happen.

Before starting to work, none of those rushing to help asked the people from the truck if they were supporters of President Barack Obama. And before accepting their aid, the people from the truck didn't ask if they were members of the Tea Party.

No one asked if someone was going to vote for Rick Perry or Bill White for governor as a precondition to offering or accepting assistance.

Before strangers at the intersection of Broadway and Mulberry began cooperating, there were no questions about where one stood on the war in Afghanistan, on health reform, on immigration, on building a Muslim cultural center near Ground Zero, on gun-ownership rights, on climate change.

Not that anyone would know anyone else's television-viewing habits, but it didn't matter if two of the people lifting the barbecue grill watched Beck and O'Reilly and if the other two hoisting the grill watched Olbermann and Maddow.

No one asked anyone else if there was any reason they should call them names because of where they stood on any particular issue, and no one was forced to prove that they weren't a racist and that they did love their country as much as the other person.

None of these things mattered because all of those working together at the intersection of Broadway and Mulberry were flesh-and-blood people, real people. They weren't cardboard caricatures cut out of politically partisan imaginations or scapegoats burdened with real and concocted sins.

They weren't sporting red shirts with the letter "R" or blue shirts with the letter "D," nor were they emblazoned with labels of "C" or "L."
These were people who came together without a thought of what might drive them apart. At the intersection of need and the instinctive impulse to do what's right, politics stays in the car while humanity gets out and helps.

At the intersection of Broadway and Mulberry on Saturday evening, a bond of affection quickly forged over a few minutes tells us more about ourselves than our politics.

When the barbecue grill hits the road is when you learn the character of people.

Cary Clack's column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. To leave a message, call 210-250-3486 or e-mail


"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem


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