Billy turned his attention to his desk. There was an open copy of The Review of Optometry there. It was opened to an editorial, which Billy now read, his lips moving slightly.
What happens in 1968 will rule the fate of European optometrists for at least 50 years! Billy read. With this warning, Jean Thiriart, Secretary of the National Union of Belgium Opticians, is pressing for formation of a "European Optometry Society." The alternatives, he says, will be the obtaining of professional status, or, by 1971, reduction to the role of spectacle-sellers.
Billy Pilgrim tried hard to care.
A siren went off, scared the hell out of him. He was expecting World War Three at any time. The siren was simply announcing high noon. It was housed in a cupola atop a firehouse across the street from Billy's office.
Billy closed his eyes. When he opened them, he was back in World War Two again. His head was on the wounded rabbi's shoulder. A German was kicking his feet, telling him to wake up, that it was time to move on.
Billy Pilgrim, with his time-hopping, has a different perspective on the past, present, and future, because they all exist at once. He doesn't necessarily fear for his life as a German P.O.W., because he knows that he will survive. He doesn't necessarily fear the reduction of his professional status to that of a spectacle-seller, because he knows that there's a plane crash in his future, which he will survive, as well. Like I said, it's all a matter of perspective.
Certainly, the choices we make now affect the future. For some reason, the voters in the United States elected Donald Trump as President of the United States. For good or bad, that choice will affect the country in which I live. I wish that I could jump forward a few years, like Billy, to have a little insight as to what a Trump presidency means for the future. In my mind, I see a totalitarian state with Donald Trump as Adolf Hitler and Steve Bannon as Joseph Goebbels. Trump stormtroopers knocking on doors across the country to round up "illegals."
I wish that I had a Billy Pilgrim perspective. Perhaps then I wouldn't panic every time I pick up a newspaper or watch a news broadcast. Or maybe I would panic more, I don't know. The best I can do is listen, watch, and, when appropriate, take action. I want to see a future where the Donald Trumps of the world are stripped of their power and money. Where they are forced to pick crops in the field. Where they are cleaning rooms at the local Holiday Inn. Where they are working for minimum wage at McDonald's, and they have a family of four to support.
I don't think that I'm being pro-Democrat or pro-Republican here. I'm being pro-people. I want to live in a place where everybody is treated with respect and kindness. I don't want to live in a place where, in order to feel "safe," a wall has to be built to keep out "undesirables," when the undesirables seem to be in charge of the country already.
As a life-long Christian, I was raised with stories about forgiveness and love. I'm thinking of the parable of the Good Samaritan, in particular. A devout Jewish man is stripped, robbed, beaten, and thrown in a ditch, left to die. A rabbi and a Levite pass by him, ignoring his pain and distress. Not wanting to get involved. Then a Samaritan shows up. A sworn enemy of the Jewish people. But the Samaritan stops and helps. Brings him to an inn. Tends to his wounds. Pays the innkeeper to care for him.
I was taught to be a Samaritan. To always care for people in need. African American. Mexican American. Legal immigrant. Illegal immigrant. Refugee or citizen. Christian or Jewish or Muslim. Gay or straight. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated. It's a really simple rule. Don't say things that hurt. Don't do things that hurt. And always help the less fortunate.
There are way too many Donald Trumps in the world, not enough Good Samaritans.
Today, Saint Marty is thankful for the Good Samaritans in life--sisters, brothers, friends, sisters-in-law who bless his life with kindness every day. They make the future seem brighter.