Thursday, June 5, 2008

Being Open Minded

In another post "Being Judgemental" I talked about "my mountain men" whom I hired to work for me. I found them as they work on roofs on a house down the street. As I needed new roofs on a couple of the houses, as well as other work, I walked down to see if they could assist me. They could, but not without some hesitation and a slight look of uncertainty. What was obvious was that they were not sure about me, though I was fine with them. Roofers tend to walk by the beat of their own drum and are usually left of conformity. They spoke loudly with a deep southern accent and wore tons of tattoos, no shirts, and long beards and hair.

I liked them immediately. They are raw, honest, respectful, and hard working. They are also family orientated, having a tier of leadership and honor for each other that was endearing and operative. Ten of the twelve are family members and they work well together, having respect for each other's skills and deference to certain abilities.

Watching them, I realize more and more how much alike we all are. When I see this large family, they don't seem to be any different from my large family. There are distinct differences, but at the root of things that matter most, we are very similar. Though initially, one may not see it.

They are from the South (Tennessee and Virginia) we are from the North (New York and Illinois.) They have deep southern accents. We do not. They are Irish. We are African American. Most of them have not finished high school. We have gone to college. They work outside mostly. We work in offices. They grow beautiful gardens and do great masonry work. We are talented singers, writers, and dancers. They have many tattoos. We are tattoo-less.

They seemed to be more leery of me than I was of them. After all, it was I who walked down to make their acquaintance. As time progressed, they seem to realize that I would be no different from many others and learned to trust me. In fact, we have developed a good relationship and I have sent them over to four of my siblings places to do work on their businesses and homes. They have bonded with my siblings and they have even joined my brother's church, the whole lot of them.

While at first I had no hesitation about their abilities from their outward appearance, I would not have necessarily felt like we had many other things in common, let alone that I would see them at church on Sunday. They are Baptists; we are not. But that did not seem to matter at all. In fact, one of them said, upon entering the sanctuary, that he felt at home and was drawn to pulpit centerpiece, the globe, that represents peace and global unity.

My brother had a grand opening last Sunday at his church largely do to the guys stepping in and helping out. They worked side by side with him and members of the church, eating, and laughing well into the early morning of the opening. My brother was so appreciative of the work they did and honored them the next day. The following Monday I got a call from one of the family members who indicated that they had been so impressed by the love shown that their family, who were looking for a church to worship, would be attending services in the new church.

The fact that they are Baptist and we are non-denominational, having every denomination present, meant nothing to either families. It is people that we both seem to love. What seem to matter most to both families is respect, honor, skill, work ethic and love. Be open-minded. Unlikely personal and professional relationships are possible.

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