The final Asbury graduate walked across the tailored stage. All who carefully watched the pomp and regalia were missing a star-crossed moment between four unlikely friends.
A Korean family filled the back two rows cheering for their spouse or son or sister. Their loved one had earned their Masters or PhD in America. Meanwhile, two pre-adolescent Indian boys sat a few rows ahead. They were earning the hushes of the one’s mother. She had allowed them to sit together for the ceremony. Through their constant debate over the best action hero and because of their bubbling friendship, they had gained the attention of many including the two year old white girl across the aisle. The little girl watched them silently perched upon her mother’s lap.
The Koreans sat in the final row, which allowed their two- year old girl some space to run around. Her double pig-tails bounced adorably aback her pink ruffled dress. She was happily lost running in her energetic circles.
I sat there watching it all unfold, this prophecy of the last rows. The little pitter patter of the young Korean’s feet brought her straight to the side of the Indian boys. Lucky to have not crashed into the metal of the boy’s chair, the toddler froze, looked up, and caught the gaze of the boy’s hazel eyes. He glanced in return seeing hers, seed shaped, beautiful, and full of life. Perhaps their eyes only met for a moment or five, but to me it seemed like time must have stopped. They gazed oblivious of the ethnic distance that lay between them. The one saw the other. Their distance, to them, did not matter. Instead of balking at the unexpected meeting of eyes, they simply shared a moment of seeing.
This prophetic moment heralded the dawning of a new age, an age filled with ‘others’ in ways unexplored. Their inquisitive willingness to hold their five second gaze had challenged directly the subtle avoidance that 2,000 graduation-attending parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters had likely used to hide their fear of the ‘other’. I wonder how many Indian adults had ever looked for five unadulterated moments into a Korean’s eye. All the while, the white baby looked on not knowing that the world before her was changing, not knowing of that her way of life would include such greater a diversity than we or her parents have known.
Each child must not have been aware that in their hearts existed seeds of prejudice and patterns of avoidance planted by their parents at young ages. And, none could have guessed that to overcome these enthnocentric sins of their fathers will be the great calling of their day.