When I was in college, I found it incredibly relaxing to sit at LaGuardia Airport and watch people coming and going. No kidding. Always the observer, it was a great delight for me. (This was before security prevented anyone who didn’t have a ticket from hanging out at an airport.) Since anyone could walk to the gate to accompany or greet a traveler, I’d park myself in a chair and watch the hellos and goodbyes. I was captivated by the emotional responses of family members of all ages waiting for a friend or a family member to emerge from the jetway and the overwhelming joy when someone spotted a loved one. I noticed the various ways people said their hellos and their goodbyes. I tried to patch together stories of the people I saw. There were often tears of happiness, relief, or sadness depending on the circumstances. There was always a connection. And I used to imagine where people are going and what their families were like.
Today, as I sat in the terminal waiting for my flight to depart, I was brought back to my college days. My flight was delayed so I had the opportunity to walk around and observe people as they were coming and going with their families and I thought how times have changed. The airport was filled to overflowing with inter-generational families from countries all over the world. Our history, dress, custom, size, race, age, language were all different from each other but we shared much in common. We were traveling with, to, or from our family and friends. Yes, many people were on their devices, but I saw people who were eating, listening to music, shopping, laughing, chasing their kids, helping their elders, and engaging with one another. I was looking for, and saw, much kindness.
We live in one of the most unique and wonderful countries in the world in great part because we are blessed to have people from various cultures, customs, and backgrounds offer their unique contributions to making us who we are. The kind thing is to welcome one another, to see our similarities, and to explore our differences with interest and curiosity. The kind thing is to be open minded and openhearted as we see each other as members of the same family, the human family. As I recalled the college student who could not wait to get to the airport to watch the arrivals and departures, I realized how important it is to reinforce our connection and reiterate that divisiveness has no place in this country.