This afternoon I had beer with a friend at a local brewery. Not extraordinary – one can’t leave the house nowadays without tripping over a local brewery. The extraordinary part was her tale of what happened to her the day before.
As she was walking home from a pilates class, her route took her along the lakeshore path of Bde Maka Ska. Walking in front of her were some well-to-do women from the suburbs who were talking about those who did not believe as they did – not regular church goers, liberals, progressives, pro-choicers, etc etc. After some discussion of these evil doers one woman finally exclaimed ‘Is there enough love in the world to put up with these people?’
‘How can someone from the suburbs who voted for Trump say something like that in my hood?’ my friend wondered.
To understand this question one must have a bit of context and that context is the history of my friend’s ‘hood’. Back in the 1800s when it was ‘discovered’ by European explorers Bde Maka Ska was home to a Dakota village. Eventually European settlers moved in, there was a war, the village was dispersed and the land given to the new settlers. These settlers renamed Bde Maka Ska to Lake Calhoun after a former vice-president who was not only a slave owner but favored legislation removing native Americans from desirable lands. (Well, I suppose it was the least they could do for him).
In most cases the tale of this land grab would have ended here. However, a few decades later a Swiss immigrant named Theodore Wirth who eventually became head of the Minneapolis Park Board encouraged the public purchase of the land around Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun) as well as Harriett, Cedar, Isles, Brownie and Nokomis. The city then created walking paths, biking paths, pavilions where one can hear free music and watch free movies, dog parks, canoe/kayak rentals etc.
This park system became known as the ‘Chain of Lakes’ – an idea that some today would call ‘socialist’ but in reality people from all walks of life hang out here – locals who know they’re lucky to live so close, suburbanites who come in to enjoy everything there is to offer, inner city residents seeking relief from the heat at the several free beaches as well as those of us who just like a good urban ramble.
Speaking of urban rambles let’s get back to that conversation over a beer. Given what little I know of the history behind my beloved Chain of Lakes my response to the story of my friend’s walk was ‘That’s pretty hypocritical considering the lake would not be accessible to any but private land owners without progressive ideas!’
The sad fact is many of us like this unknown woman make stupid comments due to our ignorance of historical events. Even today some are fighting to put Bde Maka Ska back to its ‘original’ name.
On my way home from the brewery I had another thought. Sometimes a spiritual journey starts with a question. What if this woman is trying to reconcile her faith with the cruelty of the current administration? Perhaps in asking that question she is seriously wondering ‘Is there enough love in the world?’ If that is the case then my wish for her would be to discover that yes, there is enough love in the world.
Enough love for those who return to the home of their ancestors to remember.
Enough love for those who post ‘Everyone is welcome here’ signs in a neighborhood that was once a Dakota village and today requires millions to afford to live there.
Enough love for the kids with the loud music disturbing those hanging in hammocks trying to read a book or take a nap.
Enough love for those watching the sun set over the water.
Enough love for the windsurfers trying to stay upright on the water.
Enough love for the bikers, the rollerbladers and those meeting up with friends for a walk.
Perhaps this woman can eventually expand her heart to include migrant children, beer-swilling, pilates-attending, liberal women who call themselves moderates as well as anyone else who doesn’t think like her. Perhaps…
Meanwhile, Happy 4th of July. Enjoy the lakes.
Strollin is back in style
Girl watchers are wearing a smile
All because those kids keep singin’ their song
Stop the pollution
Walking is good for the heart
Shoe makers and lovers of art
So park that car and let’s go strollin along
We lived it up
We had a ball
We had the world
Against the wall
But just before we blew it all
The young folks helped us
Sidewalks and promenades
Park benches and Easter parades
Bless those loving kids
We’re strollin again
— Strollin by the Mills Brothers
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