My hometown hosted the Arkansas Oklahoma State Fair, one of my fondest childhood memories. My family owned a piano company and my daddy tuned the pianos for the acts that performed when the fair came to town. If it was open, we were there.
As a teen I was too cool for country. My daddy still reminds me how I could have seen George Strait for free (I later paid to see him as an adult), but many are the lessons you’re too impatient to learn at 17.
Uncle Earl lived across from the fairgrounds. A people person and all-around character—if you know what I mean—he entertained the folks who paid to park in his yard. He kept the property even after moving from the house and we wondered how much he made during that one week each fall, when he held court in a yard densely packed with automobiles.
I regret that my children don’t have those fond memories. Although our Georgia county fair is a good one, it’s not the same (although the locals might argue that point). The size of our family keeps us from experiencing it as fully and often as in my childhood. That’s a lot of funnel cake, caramel apples, ride tickets, and nights away from home.
But I take five kids to the fair on opening night, when admission is free and $20 buys unlimited rides. It’s a good place to people watch, even your own children. Who likes to be scared? Who’s afraid of heights? Sometimes the answers surprise me.
The county fair, a melting pot, also provides a study in socio-economics and local diversity: everyone is represented. I like to look for the dots that connect us—our points of intersection— instead of what stands between us.
A young black mom thoughtfully eyes my (in)Mercy tee, a fundraiser for a maternity home in Kenya. Connect a dot. A Hispanic girl, crosses dangling from her ears, stands in line near me and I think about how we worship the same Jesus. Connect a dot.
“It made me so mad,” my daughter said later that night. She heard a boy complain about the number of Hispanics at the fair and it’s no wonder this hurts my daughter, whose best friend is a petite Filipino in an adoptive family that includes a Mexican brother and sisters.
In eight and a half years of blogging, there’s no mention of politics or race here, but these two verses have weighed on me lately:
- “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God . . .” – Romans 3:23. We’re all unworthy based on our own merit.
- “God is no respecter of persons . . .” – Acts 10:34. If God doesn’t rank us, I assume we’re not supposed to rank each other, either.
Don’t we all want to be judged for ourselves, not as part of the groups we’re born into?
All of us—white, black, Hispanic, or other—have prejudices. What matters is whether we choose to fight them or to embrace them. As a parent, it’s my job not to spread attitudes to my kids that would hurt them or the people around them.