Common Ground

image

Jeffrey let me out of my plastic bag to join friends – and Ride supporters – Kay and Terri at breakfast.  They came out early to see us!

 

image

Kelsey checked us out of the hotel.  Zoom in to see that she’s wearing a Ride sticker in solidarity!  Andrew, the hotel manager, had circulated to the staff our blog address.

image

Outside, a group of visitors from near Marseille asked Jeffrey about the Ride.  He explained in French.  Two of the women asked to sit on the Sprint 26.  Jeffrey was happy to oblige, and pushed one of them on a ride in the hotel driveway.  The gentleman in the white shirt said France and the U.S. are places of liberty for refugees.  Jeffrey agreed.  But it takes work to keep them so!

image

The Gateway Arch, a symbol of St. Louis as the place where the American West began, where all were welcome.  Some politicians, some people, would close this gate to refugees.

image

The courthouse where in 1846, the slave Dred Scott first claimed he had been emancipated when his master took him from Missouri (a slave state) into places where slavery was illegal.  His claim was denied, ultimately by the U.S. Supreme Court.

image

Pat, a former nursing assistant, rolled alongside us for a while.  Out of love, she obeys God’s command to welcome the stranger, including homeless people in her St. Louis neighborhood.  She has friendly neighbors.  A woman called to Jeffrey, “You are my favorite person ever!”  A man called out a warning that there was broken glass in the street; Jeffrey steered around it.

image

A statue of General Franz Sigel in a city park.  Sigel was one of many Germans who fled to the U.S. after the failed republican revolution of 1848.  The inscription refers to “the heroism of the German-American patriots of St. Louis and vicinity in the civil war of 1961 to 1865”.  President Lincoln famously said, “In regard to the Germans … I deem them no better than other people, nor any worse.  It is not my nature … to make their lives more bitter … but rather would I do all in my power to raise the yoke, than to add anything that would tend to crush them.”  As Jeffrey examined the statue, a passer-by said, “I like your flag” (on the Sprint 26).

image

Valarie & Jeffery stopped to chat at the edge of the Washington Univesity campus.  Their daughter is preparing for law school at Ohio State.  They agree that asylum applicants need legal counsel to give effect to their right to apply for refuge in the U.S.  Maybe their daughter will be part of the solution.

image

A couple of minutes later, Asia—en route to pick up her 8-month-old and caught on campus in the downpour—joined Jeffrey and me under a tree until a cloudburst let up.  Jeffrey introduced us.  Asia donated all the cash she had in her pocket to Human Rights First.

image

Jeffrey likes the name of this burg: “City of Town and Country”.  We rode through many such places near St. Louis: pretty and prosperous.

image

As we pedaled up a steep hill, runner Laura, a 3rd year RN student at Truman State, called out to us.  Soon we were joined by Laura’s friend Amy, who is studying arts and education at UMissou in St. Louis.  We had a wide-ranging talk about work, politics and culture, with some detours into things like the fine quality of St. Louis tapwater.  These professional women are concerned about the possible spread of Missouri “concealed carry” guns to univesity campuses.  Jeffrey mentioned the old saw that when one holds a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  Perhaps when one carries a pistol, everyone looks like an enemy.  And maybe, when one listens to hateful talk, everyone who is labeled “other” seems worthy of hatred.  We will write more on this soon.

image

This yard in Ellisville is surrounded by U.S. flags, including small ones (not shown) densely lining the curb.  The lawn sign says, “Hillary for Prison”.

image

We climbed hills that rose for as long as 2 miles at a stretch.  Our new low gears let us keep rolling, albeit as slowly as 3 mph.  On some of the downhills, we topped 30 mph before Jeffrey braked a little.

Meet Joe and Doc.  These genuinely friendly guys are members of the Missouri Militia.

They patiently explained some of the principles of their organization.  Jeffrey knows zero about the Missouri constitution, and is not sure about their interpretation of the U.S. constitution and the limits of federal power.  But we agree on some things.  We accept lawyer Harvey Silverglate’s view that federal criminal law has become so broad and vague that any of us can be deemed a felon.  And when Joe spoke of a friend’s family being deported to Mexico, Jeffrey thought of families torn apart and businesses ruined by immigration rules that violate human nature and common sense.

image

We’re in cave country!  These big limestone caverns in Pacific, Missouri, topped by tall trees, are not fenced off so must be nothing special.

We ended the day riding alongside goodhearted Matt, who supervises truck part production at a local company.  He learned his profession on the job, and is enhancing his skills at a local college.  He recently took up cycling, rode a century (100 miles in a day) and is about to do another, and teaches his 11-year-old daughter to watch for cyclists. We talked about refugees (he favors helping them) and politics (he didn’t say where he stands; his friends think no matter who wins in November, it won’t be good for them or for the country).

Matt has traveled America extensively and finds that most Americans are kind and reasonable, even if some have the occasional extreme idea.  That’s been our experience too.  When we listen calmly, accept our new friend’s good intent, and recognize that disagreement doesn’t mean that one deserves jail—even if one is named Hillary, even in Ellisburg, Missouri—then even with today’s Ride’s great big cast of characters, we find common ground with every one.

4 thoughts on “Common Ground

  1. Love ‘rolling’ with you, Jeffrey. Hearing about the many good conversations you are having on the road – agree or disagree – is inspiring to say the least. The dogs nipping at your ankles, not so much. Your message about asylum seekers and the need for legal representation is so succinct and sensible, you achieve agreement all along this person to person journey. Would but we could multiply you a million times. Thank you once more and again and again. K

  2. another good read about a variety of people and U.S. History

    “keep on bikin”

    cousin Joel

  3. I like how you find common ground with the people on your way. pS Illinois Germans helped elect Lincoln.

Comments are closed.