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I Remember the Dancing Samoans

I think too much from the spot I stand in. So when I watched the Coke commercial during the Superbowl and felt tears start in my eyes, it never dawned on me people would complain. Calling the commercial names, some much worse than un-American. At best, divisive.

To put this in perspective, my favorite physical metaphor of community is the San Francisco Pride Parade I attended one year. It was a HUGE parade. Everyone in the parade was in the parade because they were either LGBT or LGBT allies. Inside that overarching connection, you had every type of marching group imaginable. The dancing Samoans. The walking, waving District Attorneys. The leather contingent and the angel contingent. The barely-not-naked contingent.

What I loved about the parade was that the identification of the connection was so strong each group was allowed to celebrate its individuality to the max. That, to me, is community. Not “be just like me,” or “think what I think,” or even “agree with me on my basic tenets.” But “we are all in this together in our very own unique way.”

This isn’t easy, mind you. Social scientists will tell you that we as humans are naturally, easily drawn to those who are similar to us. It’s the bridging to connect with different groups that requires intentionality.

But when that happens, when those who have an overarching connection that allows them to stand together despite their differences—the gay policemen and the gay public defenders; the old men who meet on the battlefield and shake the hand of their former enemy while tears stream down their face; the Americans who cannot understand a dang thing you’re saying but think it’s beautiful that an American can say it—it creates in me a moment of vibrating certainty that I know is God’s presence in my life. It’s the universal expression of this connection—the knowing so strongly our connection to others simply because we are the beloved community—that would see us rejoicing in all our differences.

So when I saw the Coke commercial, I thought something I don’t often think. I thought, damn. I’m proud to be an American.

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