Bear with me, and you will see what inspiration and fishing have in common. Or maybe not. It’s going to be a bit subtle, so you might have to put your thinking caps on.
First the Inspiration
Which I especially like because now you can know that I don’t always listen to the horrible news on podcasts. Sometimes I listen to uplifting ones, such as a recent story on Ted Talks by novelist Elif Shafak. Here’s a brief introduction to what she had to say:
“From populist demagogues, we will learn the indispensability of democracy,” says novelist Elif Shafak. “From isolationists, we will learn the need for global solidarity. And from tribalists, we will learn the beauty of cosmopolitanism.” A native of Turkey, Shafak has experienced firsthand the devastation that a loss of diversity can bring — and she knows the revolutionary power of plurality in response to authoritarianism. In this passionate, personal talk, she reminds us that there are no binaries, in politics, emotions and our identities. “One should never, ever remain silent for fear of complexity.”
One point she stressed over and over is the need for us to be aware of and embrace all peoples in the world, not just folks in our corner of the globe. And we need to pray for people who are suffering all over, not just the ones in our neighborhoods. For too long we have been compartmentalized into tribes – the people in America, Europe, Africa, South America, the Middle East all being separate from each other.
Elif strongly urges people not be be separate. Not to have an “us” and “them” mentality, but a “we” mentality. She said:
“Tribalism shrinks our minds and it shrinks our hearts.”
Wow! What a powerful statement.
Just think about how that mentality has driven so much of the discord in the world, as well as in our individual countries. I can see it clearly playing out in the racism and bigotry in the United States.
Elif’s entire message was so hopeful and so inspirational, I do hope you will follow the link to Ted Talks and listen to her entire talk. It is well worth your time.
Okay, About Fishing
The first thing I want to say about fishing is how my experience of fishing with an older black man in Omaha, Nebraska came about.
I first met Mr. Charles when I was out walking my dogs, and we would pass by his yard. He was one of the few neighbors who would be outside no matter what the weather was like, and we would often chat for a few minutes. He was thrilled to find out that my husband was a minister and that I am a chaplain, finding a common bond in shared ministry.
When I would stop to visit, some of our other conversations revolved around fishing and the great walleyes that could be found in lakes north of us, although Mr. Charles preferred the trout at a lake much closer. One day he told me how much he missed fishing, and I was surprised to find out he was no longer going out. He explained that his children, both of whom lived some distance away, were afraid for him to go out alone now that he was sick, and the friend he used to fish with was no longer able to.
He talked about this a couple more times when I stopped on my daily walk, and finally it hit me that maybe he was really grieving for this loss in his life. I asked if he would like to go fishing with me sometime.
“Oh, I thought you would never ask,” he said.
“But why didn’t you just ask me?”
“Because a black man cannot invite a white woman to do anything,” he said. “That is the way I was raised. I could never be that forward. But there is nothing in that code of conduct that says I cannot accept your invitation.”
That was a stark reminder to me that Mr. Charles had been raised to respect the tribal limits. Limits that kept us separate and not equal.
Unfortunately Those Limits Still Exist
A few years ago, I wrote a longer piece about fishing with Mr. Charles and, if you care to, you can read the entire article HERE
And you might want to find a fishing buddy, looking outside of you own tribe. You never know how many barriers to understanding that could break down.