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Gumballs Might Cure Us

There were two lines in the grocery store. Both checkers were beating their brains out trying to keep up with the rush. I was third in line at the second register, and at register number one there were three ladies in line. One was in the process of checking out, and the other two were patiently waiting. I watched the last two ladies intently. I was almost embarrassed because I thought they might be thinking I was giving them the evil eye. One of the ladies was white and the other was black. The black lady kept a buggy length distance from the white lady and the white lady was grateful. From time to time the two ladies would look at each other with something less than a smile or a pleasing face. It was quite a sight. It was obvious that they did not want to be in line together.

I live in a very prejudiced area of the state, as it is with most small southern towns. As the community perceives it, everyone should “know their place.” Prejudice really smells, doesn’t it?

As I continued to watch, I saw both of these mothers take intent glances toward the front window, as if they were looking for something specific. I was wishing there were more people in line so I could watch this a little longer. That’s when I saw the real problem. Up at the front, just in front of the window were six gum and toy machines. There were two children there, both about six years old, a little girl and a little boy. I would judge both of them to be about six years old. The little girl was black, and the little boy was white. That’s when I remembered the look on the mother’s faces. I had seen it before in the chicken house in the actions of an ole mother hen who fears danger for her chicks. Both of these mothers looked like old mother hens protecting their babies.

I’ve lived a long time, but I’ve never seen a gumball machine attack anyone. It was obvious that these two women were not concerned about the gumball machines, they were wrestling with their prejudice. As I watched the children, they went round and round the machines together. Sounds of joy came from their young innocent lips as they “Ooohhed and Aawwed” over the toys and the different goodies in the machines. They drew no boundaries, nor did they even notice the color difference in their skin. All they were concerned about was the gum and the toys. Neither of the children had a cent to put in the machines, nor were their mothers about to give them anything. I wanted to give them a coin apiece myself, but I knew better than to fuel that fire, so I watched patiently and learned.

Both of the women were wise enough to keep their mouths shut. As I watched on I figured out what they were trying to do. They both wanted the children to look up so they could give them one of those mama looks that says “get yourself over here and do it NOW”!! It was all I could do to keep from bursting out laughing. What a sight!

Finally, one of the ladies checked out her groceries, went to the car and the problem, as they saw it, was over. About that time, I checked out, went to the truck, and studied what I had witnessed. For some, it might have only been the boring task of buying groceries, but for me, it was a learning experience. I saw something in those little children that was the answer to prejudice all over the world. We need a common goal. These children had a common goal that was more important to them than color or economic status. They were looking at gumball machines, dreaming of chewing on their delightful delicacies. They were there in the floor, playing with every toy on display in the machines, even though they didn’t have a coin to purchase any of them.

Prejudice is sinful. There is no way around it. We were all created from “one blood” and someway, somehow, kin to each other. It is inconsistent to dislike someone because of color or economic status, but it happens. In God’s Church, it should never be because we have a common goal. If we would just sit in the floor and “Ooohh and Aaww” over Jesus the way these children did over the gum and the toys, we might just find out that prejudice will vanish. Be prepared, however, for those on the outside to do the same way the mothers did in the store, but what does it matter what they think anyway?