Sharing Common Goals

There was nothing contrived or artificial when many of our branch members and guests gathered to celebrate joy, peace and hope on a beautiful afternoon in a glorious historic church in the city. The music was wonderful and, at the end of the day, spirits were lifted and hugs, handshakes and smiles were exchanged. Our shared goals brought us together. We were there to experience an enriching event, a concert by a group with a long tradition of excellence in a hall that had echoed with the sound of so many generations of voices, each with their own words of praise, faith and hope. Those who were guests at the concert were made to feel very welcome and appreciated, not only for our offering of thanks, in the form of a simple, but gladly-given reception, but for the fact that we attended and appreciated the fellowship and good music.
More than fifty years ago, between my thirteenth and seventeenth birthdays, I shared four peaceful years with strangers who also had a common goal. In the morning we rode the D Train to work and school, and in the evening we rode back to our homes and families. During those good years without drama or high anxiety, I was riding the D Train to Harlem, 135th Street and Convent Ave., with a transfer from the express D to a local train at 145th Street. I was going to high school. Around me were grandmas and grandpas, moms and dads, sisters and brothers whose common goal was to arrive safely and on time. My parents gave me travel instructions: “Sit next to other ladies on the train, a grandma who was knitting was the best place to sit, especially if she was working with big knitting needles. Otherwise, sit next a mom with children or with other girls. Talk to no strangers and if the train was crowded with everyone standing but one seat was empty, there might be a reason; don’t sit there.”
Race, class, dress or language was never the issue. My family’s good advice for me would have been good advice for any youngster riding the trains. It was about the world as they perceived it, with advice for all youngsters of my age, “keep your wits about you and your eyes open,” to travel safely.
Implicitly, my family communicated that if I sat with strangers of any race, creed or nationality, and our goals were the same, traveling safely and keeping the peace, I would be OK.
Today in a world that seeks the beauty and joy of a lovely choral afternoon but so often faces dangers we D Train riders could not imagine, perhaps the advice of my parents rings more true than ever. Sit with ladies whose goals for peace and safe journeys extend beyond the train and into the world. If they carry big knitting needles…all the better!
Fondly for the Diversity Committee,

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One Response to Sharing Common Goals

  1. kathe1223 says:

    Really enjoyed this and know about the trains you were riding. I would get the Pelham Bay to Brooklyn Bridge to visit my grandmother!

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