I walked out of my workplace one lazy afternoon with my friend John. I was on my way to tax-grievance day, supported by John's usual, uplifting encouragement. "Knock-'em dead," he told me. Little did I realize the foreshadowing of events in his comment. As we moved toward our separate cars we heard horrifying screams, the screech of tires, the thud of something hit, then silence. We turned to see a young man hovering over his beloved dog, dead in the middle of the road. Not a word was spoken by any of the young man's five friends, all clad in studded black leather and with a variety of tattoos and body piercings, who stood with their brightly colored mohawks bent in sorrow as they viewed the dead body.
John and I were dumbfounded, astounded that the driver of the SUV did not so much as get out of his car, much less apologize or express his condolences. It was almost too painful to watch as the young man gracefully lifted the mammoth and lifeless body of his beloved pet and carried it away, his eyes filled with sorrow. His friends followed him in silent procession, one of them stopping briefly at the driver's window to accept his business card. The young man lifted his dog to the bed of his friend's pickup truck, and one of his tough-looking companions removed his studded leather jacket to cover the body of the dead pet. The group stood silently, as if in prayer, around the lifeless victim.
In that moment I was able to see beneath the young men's rough appearance to the gentleness and compassion that I shared with them. Suddenly I realized a deeper meaning to the old expression, "the browner the banana peel, the sweeter the fruit inside." Later, as I reflected on this event, I understood why the driver chose to stay in his vehicle. He judged the young men by the way they were dressed and assumed that they were dangerous, so he was afraid to get out of his car. He didn't look beyond the clothing to the individuals wearing it. How often do we react as we have been conditioned by society to react, instead of taking the time to look deeper? If we are willing to look beyond the exterior, we may see the shining reflection of the soul from within and realize that we all share love and pain and sorrow in this life. In the end, isn't it true that what unites us as souls is stronger than what separates us?