We started the day with Shannon’s sunshine smile.
Shannon agreed enthusiastically that people seeking asylum in America should get the help they need to present their cases. She is supportive of the Ride, and came outside to snap Jeffrey’s photo. Then we hit the road.
Historic Route 66 in this region is very straight, very flat, 2-lane, and sparingly used (because it parallels I-55). Some sections of the original Route 66—concrete slabs adjacent to the what is now the “historic” road—have been made into bike paths. Where we had to share the road with motor traffic, drivers were unfailingly courteous. Many waved or called out in support.
In Bloomington, a wooded bike path gave some relief from the intense sun. Otherwise Jeffrey might have thought he was hallucinating when he encountered two tandem bicycles being ridden by four Illinois State University academics. The teams had not heretofore met.
Jeffrey was grateful that they interrupted their rides to talk about bicycling, safety, and local points of interest. He was unable to help with a “beer bet” that Merlin can bike with people from all 50 states in 2016 (Merlin already had biked with a New Yorker.) Regarding Human Rights First and help to refugees, Jeffrey was preaching to the choir. Yet even some of these professors (with the notable exception of Noha, who’s in The Biz) did not realize how badly (say) “Arab Spring” countries treat political and religious dissidents.
South of Bloomington, we returned to Historic Route 66.
Jeffrey was ready to stop when we pulled into Lincoln. Always a talker, he perked up again when he met a birthday boy.
The adults had a wide-ranging discussion about refugee rights (all in favor), politics (we seem to be on the same page), and local conditions (Jeffrey was told there are immigrants in the area, but that major friction relates more to race than to nationality). We agreed that it can be hard to accept newcomers when one grew up in a homogeneous society, and that because today’s children are exposed to humanity in all its variety, America has hope for a future of acceptance and respect.
We’ll close with another reason to hope. Nancy’s and Jeffrey’s good friend Tom sent us this message from Salt Lake City (pop 200,000), a relatively cosmopolitan part of a relatively homogeneous state.
Tom, and George, and the thought of understanding (which leads to love) in Utah, made Jeffrey smile. If my puppet face weren’t sewn on, I’d smile too.