Columnist: Eugene and the Big Green Machine

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 21, 2016

As I watched the world turn this week, I was struck by the enveloping sense of sadness that seemed to surround it.

Our citizens of different races again killing each other in protest. The policeman who targets the African-American, the African-American who targets the policeman. As we all know, wrongs do not make anything right.

The anger, the hatred, the fear surrounding us daily in this place called earth is incredibly heartbreaking.

I thought about how do you write “uplifting” when it seems to mock tragedy? How do you give people love and hope when others fight hard to give them hate and hopelessness?

I laid in bed last night thinking I would call my editor and tell him to rerun an old article. My brain and heart were not in sync to make my hands type words that would seem empty and lost — until just a moment ago.

Behind my desk is a bookcase. It holds pictures, books and lots of junk I don’t need. I glanced at the Bible on the third shelf. Suddenly I thought of Eugene and the Big Green Machine, and then I smiled. I felt uplifted and sparked to tell you why.

My son, Corey, is the youngest of my three children. When he was in first grade he was a happy combination of blond, bowl cut hair and a toothless grin. He could make all of us laugh at his silly antics and his zest for wanting to do so. He was, and has always been, the clown among us.

We lived on a street full of kids. Noisy kids that played together in the afternoon after school. Every minute was not taken up with a planned activity. There was free time taken up with fun, make believe and laughter.

When you pulled onto Knollwood Circle, you knew to drive really slowly.

There might be 30 kids in the street and as many Big Green big wheel bikes lined up on the side of the road. You were lucky if you could pull your car in your own driveway.

One day, Corey asked me if his new friend Eugene could come over and play.

“Well, I don’t know Eugene, but I think it would be fine if I talk to his mom first.”

I did and all was planned. Corey was so excited. It seemed that my son had found his best friend and I was happily looking forward to meeting him.

Eugene indeed made me very happy. Eugene was African-American and the reason for my joy was because Corey never saw his friend any other way than just plain Eugene who liked to ride the Big Green Machine.

There was a philosophy I tried to instill in my kids early. Eugene’s mother and I taught that one should never judge a person because of their color. It was archaic and dumb. It was un-Christian, unkind and ugly. She and I were on the same page. Thus, our children were defined by each other as just best friends.

I have always thought that God made us so many different colors and types so that we would learn to love people by who they were and not what they were; just like He does. I felt it was our test for humanity. His command was to never judge.

Now I see folks judging each other. Hating each other and killing one another. How did that just happen? I feel we are in the ’60s all over again. This is stupid and has to stop. We all have to do better and watch our words and actions. We all have to quit the quick judgments and harmful rhetoric. We have to stop the hate and those that promote it.

We need to forgive the past and move to a better tomorrow. We can’t stay in the dogma of old nor can we let it dictate our future. Our future is a scary enough place. We need the arms of all Americans to surround this country and fight for goodness over evil.

Evil is the guy in the truck in Nice, France. It is the guy in the Orlando nightclub. It is the guy from Germany who brought shame to humanity in World War II. It is the barbarians that cut off innocent’s heads, and evil is not the work of any God I know. Evil uses the name of God to promote nothing but itself.

If we do not band together as a nation of all races and fight the true evil, then hate will be multiplied and we will all become a part of it.

My mind goes back to the two little boys racing the Big Green Machines on the street. I can see them laughing and playing as if it were yesterday.

We moved away from Knollwood Circle years ago before the two boys were to turn 11. They stayed close friends until the day the van moved down the bike filled street for the last time.

That was 31 years ago. Eugene and Corey still stay in touch. How awesome that love prevailed in a little blond hair boy with a silly grin who took the hand of a friend forever, because the only color he saw was the green of a big wheel bike.

Maybe we need to learn something from the innocence of youth, the knowledge of God, and that love really does and can conquer hate. Maybe we need to grab the hand that is another color to unite and face the real evil among us.

It is way, way past time.

Lynn Walker Gendusa

Contributing columnist

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell.