Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

August 25, 2010

Communists and Gringos

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

We stood on the sidewalk as the Communists paraded down the street.  They carried their usual signs and uttered their chants.  As they spotted us, there was increased rhetoric aimed as us.  As gringos (Americans), we  gave them reason to be more demonstrative.

Though they did not represent the majority in Costa Rica, they had the privilege to march, recruit, and exert power.  It was a moment for them to feel a sense of victory as they sought to intimidate us.  We remained silent and did not respond to their harassment.  Although we were residents in the country, we were not citizens and had no position.  It was not for us to challenge or debate them.

This demonstration passed as with others, and we continued our activities.  However, it was during a particular time of celebration for the Communist Party.  The following days would see more activity.  It might be spontaneous or organized.

A friend and I were downtown at the market the following day.  When we completed our shopping, we boarded a bus to our homes.  A few blocks from downtown, the bus stopped to allow passengers to exit.  The bus had no doors that closed and the windows were open.  It could be considered an open-air ride.  As the bus stopped, we noticed a large number of young men on the sidewalk.

As several passengers left the bus, suddenly through both the front and side doors, these young men began to board the bus.  It was obvious they were not paying or planning on riding.  They were taking control of the bus.  My friend and I were at the back of the bus.  We were sitting on the long seat at the back.  As these 15 or 20 young men charged the bus, we realized they had knives and scissors in hand. 

They began to rush toward the back of the bus.  We realized we were the only gringos on the bus, and we assumed it was part of the Communist movement that was expressing itself that week in a very vocal and physical way.  My friend, an exceptionally large man, braced himself for the rush of the young men.  I was waiting for whatever might be about to occur.

Before my friend had to physically protect himself, two or three of these young men grasped another young man who sat almost in the last seat.  They pulled him off the bus, and began to cut his hair!  Other passengers began to laugh.  They had understood the rush of these young men onto the bus and the removal of this one young man.

We were at a stop close to the university.  The young men who rushed on the bus were simply initiating a freshman student!  It may have seemed fun to most on that bus . . . but for us . . . it was frightening.  We had anticipated the worst as the students came on board.  But then, the scenario gave us reason!

How often I have not understood circumstances and quickly prepared for an unnessary response.  At least in this case, we did not respond too quickly or certainly there would have been a misunderstanding that could have led to a frightful encounter.

That experience reminds me not to act or react too quickly.  I must allow a moment of discernment.  I must wait for a time to know the reality or truth of the situation.  In doing so, I can avoid hurting others or being hurt myself —  both physically, and especially in relationships.  It is so easy to respond verbally sometimes without thinking.  I have some of those regrets.  Hopefully, I will hold my tongue or control my facial expression before I respond to something said that was not meant the way I heard it.  I must take time for discernment.

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.”  (Proverbs 16:21)  “So give your servant a discerning heart . . . .” (1 Kings 3:8)



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