Seeking the purple car


Mideast Lebanon
Lebanese army soldiers stand guard at the scene of Thursday’s twin suicide bombings in Burj al-Barajneh, southern Beirut, Lebanon, on Friday. (The Associated Press)

While volunteering last week at an American Red Cross blood drive in downtown Cleveland, I met a donor from North Canton. James and his wife have been married 48 years. He’s a talker, a doer, the type who doesn’t sit still.

He asked me what I do when I’m not helping the Red Cross. I told him my background is newspaper layout and design. “You’re an artist,” James said to me. “You are hard to manage. The world needs people like you.”

In a five-minute conversation, James had me pegged better than some people who’ve known me for decades. I certainly wish my most recent employer understood me like that.

I am hard to manage, sometimes. I’m not afraid to make you uncomfortable. I think differently than most people do. I often do not follow the voice of popular opinion. Two examples:

  1. I did not do the Ice Bucket Challenge last summer. No one asked me, and I likely would have said no if I was asked. Not that the challenge was a bad thing. It raised millions for ALS research. But that’s my point: Since everyone was doing it, ALS research did not need my money. There are plenty of other causes that receive far less publicity and are just as needy. I’ll donate there. Anonymously, if possible.
Baker Ice Bucket Challenge
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, right center, and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, third from left, participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge with its inspiration Pete Frates, seated in center, to raise money for ALS research on Aug. 10, 2015, at the Statehouse in Boston. (The Associated Press)

2. Many people on Facebook are superimposing the colors of the French flag over their cover photos in support of those who died in Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris. Again, a worthy thought. Again, I am not going to do it. Paris isn’t the first city victimized by terrorists. Perhaps it won’t be the last. Will we change our colors again the next time it happens? And the time after that?

Indeed, Paris wasn’t even the first city victimized by terrorists last week. Just the day before, on Thursday, Beirut fell victim to two bombers who killed 42 people.

According to the New York Times, Facebook did not offer its members the option of superimposing the Lebanese flag over their cover photos to support the Beirut victims. I’ve seen other articles saying that we aren’t as interested in Beirut as we are in Paris – a main reason being that Americans frequently travel to Paris, but not to Beirut.

But let’s remember both. Beirut has people too – who may need our support as much or more than Parisians do. Even if it’s not as popular to support a Middle Eastern city.

I have Facebook friends who are Tea Party Republicans, as far right as they can get. I also have friends who are unabashed liberals, as far left as they can get. Most of my friends are somewhere in between, on both sides of center.

I cultivate that. Write this on my tombstone: He got along with all types of people.

To be my friend, you don’t have to agree with everything I stand for. I don’t necessarily agree with everything you do or say. I can respect you and be your friend anyway.

Why is this such a hard concept for most Americans to understand?

I think differently than most Americans do, but I wish I didn’t. Before I post something on Facebook (or LinkedIn), I carefully consider what my friends on the right and the left are thinking.

I’m not afraid to challenge your ideas. I like intelligent discussion. I don’t know everything there is to know about any issue. So, enlighten me. I hope I can enlighten you a little bit as well.

Many posts spout vitriol, with no intent to start a discussion. I’ve been tempted to tag a conservative post on a liberal’s timeline, and vice versa. I haven’t done it, but I’ve been tempted, just to set you off.

The world does not revolve around you. (Or me, of course.) You are not always right. The world is rarely black and white. Artists know this. We see the world in multiple colors.

My wife has a civil engineering degree, tutors math students, works in the financial aid office of our local community college and is taking an accounting class. In case you couldn’t tell, she likes numbers, logic and all things predictable.

One of her tutoring students recently worked on a ratio problem. There were certain ratios of red cars and blue cars in a parking garage, and one of the ratios in the problem was not possible. Which one?

My response: “I have no idea. I’d look for the purple car.”

Ratios are fine. They serve a valuable purpose. There’s nothing wrong with math. But in my mind, two plus two does not always equal four. Some of you understand this.

Who will help me search for the purple car?


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