Published on April 26th, 2023 | by Randy Weeks0
The View From The Balcony: “WOKE”
I dreamt last night of my mother. I was in bed and she was gently nudging me, saying, “Wake up, Randy. Wake up.” I woke to her sweet smile, the smile of kindness itself. “Get dressed,” she said. “We have places to go.” I dressed myself and we were off.
Mother drove the old Chevrolet slowly while she hummed “Amazing Grace.” The day was cool, so we rode with open windows. I nodded off and when Mother woke me, we were parked on a side street in West Hollywood, California, that was covered with small tents, bedrolls, and hungry hopeless people. Mother got out, opened my door, took my hand, and said, “Let’s go, Randy.”
We walked the sidewalks as if we were invisible. A man was giving out food and water to the vagrants. He turned, looked at me with piercing eyes, and said, “Wake up, Randy! Feed the hungry.”
In a flash Mother and I were back in the car. Seemingly before I could blink, we were parked outside an American prison. Mother took my hand, and we walked in, right past the guards. She took me to the cells, infested with rats and mosquitoes. Toilets were broken and had overflown. The man from the streets of L.A. was mopping the floor between the rows of cells. He looked at me with the same piercing eyes and said, “Wake up, Randy! Treat the prisoners with dignity!”
Our next stop was outside Natchez, Mississippi. It was 1846. Mother led me to the slave quarters. There we saw a young girl raped by her master. We saw an old female slave beaten because the cornbread she cooked was too dry. We saw a baby boy ripped from the arms of his mother and sent away to another plantation. The man from the streets of L.A. was there. He looked at me with the same piercing eyes and said, “Wake up, Randy! End oppression!”
Next, we came to a secluded building in Kentucky, current day. I could hear people talking and thought it to be a church. I quickly learned otherwise. People wearing white hoods and robes were cheering the speaker on as he talked of a pure, white, Christian nation, and ridding the world of people of all people of color. The man from the streets of L.A. walked up behind me. I turned and he looked at me with the same piercing eyes and said, “Wake up, Randy! Stand against hate!”
Mother then drove me to a clinic in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where gender affirmation care was being done. We stood outside and heard the protesters verbally assaulting the people who came and went. Inside we saw people trying to get help to become the person they knew themselves to be. The man from the streets of L.A. looked up from his seat at the front desk. He looked at me with the same piercing eyes and said, “Wake up, Randy! Protect the abused and misunderstood!”
Next, we were in a junior high classroom where history was being taught. A child raised her hand and asked, “Were Black people sometimes killed just for being Black?” The teacher replied, “We don’t need to cover that in history. Leave it in the past.” The man from the streets of L.A. was leaning against the chalkboard. He looked at me with the same piercing eyes and said, “Wake up, Randy! Teach the whole truth, even the darkest parts.”
Mother and I then found ourselves in the United States Congress where every member of both houses was redacting books with a marker. Novels, biographies, history books, children’s books, books of poetry were all being slashed because of references to anyone and anything that seemed counter to the reigning popular culture. The man from the streets of L.A. climbed to the podium. He looked at the lawmakers with the same piercing eyes and said, “Wake up, you fools! Wake up! Put down your markers! Open your hearts and your hands. Walk in kindness and love.” No politician woke. There were elections to win.
My alarm went off. I woke and silenced it. I lay there for a while, trying to absorb my dream and all the messages of peace, kindness, equality, honesty, inclusion, and love it gave me. I woke in a whole new way.
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. (Hillel, Talmud, Shabbath 31a)
…and that’s the view from The Balcony.
Randy Weeks is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Shamanic Life Coach, an ordained minister, a singer-songwriter, and an actor. Randy may be reached at email@example.com.
Art by AI with prompts by Newt Rayburn.