Grab a broom

You are outraged at the injustices and cruelty suffered by people of color. You want to help, but you don’t know what to do.

Grab a broom.

Two stories might help to illustrate. Both are true.

The young adult fellowship group at a large church in Miami was planning a working trip to a Caribbean island, where they were to join a team building a church and school in a poverty-stricken area. When he learned that Charlene would chair the planning committee, Bruce quickly volunteered so he could be closer to her. Bruce’s interest in Charlene was obvious to everyone. He made no secret of it, followed her around like a lovesick puppy.

To an outsider, they could have been well-suited as a couple. Both were educated, attractive, outgoing, employed in well-paying jobs, but Charlene rebuffed his advances at every turn. She wanted nothing to do with him. Pressed by a group of her female friends, she explained in a single sentence: “He acts as if he would need to ask his parents’ permission to go to the bathroom.”

Bruce’s lack of independent thinking kept him from achieving his goal of a romantic relationship with the woman of his dreams.

This second story illustrates a lesson I learned — and never have forgotten — as a young wannabe actor in a Baltimore theater company. Once the curtain falls on the final performance, everyone pitches in to help return the stage and dressing rooms to their clean, empty original condition. It’s called strike. Scenery is disassembled, lights disconnected and removed, props, costumes, makeup, everything goes, and the place is thoroughly cleaned.

I clearly recall my first strike experience. All around me, things were happening fast. I had to jump out of the way as battens bearing lights and scenic drops were being lowered from the loft, and set pieces were being carried off. I kept standing around, getting in  the way, waiting for someone to tell me what to do. No one did, so I picked my way through the activity to a backstage corner, grabbed a large push broom and started sweeping. Before long, others joined me as we put the final touches on the cleanup.

So that’s how it is, I thought. If you haven’t been assigned a specific task, make one up. Do something useful.

Grab a broom.







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