Love From a Common Heart

August 21, 2020

Greetings again, y’all!

About a month ago, my wife, Misty, and I were visiting Oklahoma City to see our grandson and my son and daughter-in-law. On Saturday morning, Misty and I went to a popular local restaurant for a late breakfast. Oklahoma City had just passed an indoor mask ordinance the night before but Tulsa, where we live, had passed one about a week earlier, so we went in with masks on. Inside, we found masks and social distancing in short supply. There we two seats at the counter, though, where everyone was spread out, so we walked over and sat down rather than leave.

At the end of the counter to our right was a guy that looked quintessentially like small-town Oklahoma; to our left, two African American Vietnam veterans. The guy to our right kept slightly turning in his seat and looking down the counter toward us. Being the only ones in the area who had masks on, my immediate reaction was that he felt the whole thing silly. I felt that he was judging us and the gentlemen to our left. I shook my head, mumbled something about it to Misty, and tried to decide what to order.

As he got up to leave, I heard him ask the server something, and I turned and looked down toward the two veterans. On the wall behind them was a television showing old sports highlights, which I hadn’t noticed and was, in fact, why the man kept turning and looking our way. He then peeled off a $20 bill, told the server that he wanted it to go toward the veterans’ tabs and walked out the door.

I almost cried. Not merely because of the man’s generosity but because of the sudden realization that I was the one judging, not him.

With all of the things going on right now—the pandemic, the fight for racial justice, the economy, the dog days of summer, cabin fever—I believe we’re more polarized as a nation and more likely to rush to judgment than ever. We tend to bury ourselves in our social media feeds and news outlets of choice, believing we hold the singular truth and begrudging other insights. We forget that elementally we’re all humans. We walk the same dirt, breathe the same air, and love from a common heart. My challenge to myself —and to you—is look around and grant others the same grace you wish them to grant us. It’s tough in today’s atmosphere, but we need to dedicate ourselves to it, nonetheless.

As I wrap up my term as SMPS Foundation president, I want to thank all of you for your belief in SMPS and your support of the Foundation. My SMPS journey has meant the world to me, and I hope yours does, too. The foundation is in great hands with Donna Corlew coming in to lead a stellar team of trustees, and I know the best days lie ahead.

Be safe, take care of each other, and I hope to see you all soon.

Brad

 

SMPS Foundation President Brad Thurman, P.E., FSMPS, CPSM, is principal and chief marketing officer at Wallace Engineering in Tulsa, OK. He can be reached at bthurman@wallacesc.com.