“My other brother Darryl.”
Back in the eighties there were three characters on The Newhart Show who were brothers. Larry was the oldest and the only one who ever spoke. Whenever they would enter a scene, Larry would say, “Hi, I’m Larry. This is my brother Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl.” I used to hear that a lot when people met me. Often in the form of, “where’s your other brother Daryl?” Well tonight, I met him…or one of them.
I was in town for a lecture then walked a few blocks to get dinner. As I was walking around D.C., I noticed up one of the roads I was crossing a bright light and quickly realized that it was the White House. Since I was so close, I walked down to get a closer look, having not seen it up-close at night.
When I got to Pennsylvania Avenue, I used what I thought was an unaccompanied protest sign to stabilize my phone while I took a picture in the dark of the White House. It turns out the sign wasn’t unaccompanied after all, so I found myself in a conversation with Darrel. We laughed a bit, more of a collective cringe, as we both recalled being involved in the “other brother Darryl” joke.
Darrel mans this multi-issue protest site across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White house a couple of times a week. We had a good conversation about our military backgrounds, his opposition to the military use of depleted uranium and our individual spiritual journeys. In my short time in Washington D.C., I’ve discovered there’s no shortage of interesting people on the streets of D.C., and I have to wonder, how many of them are my brother?
Not too long before I met Darrel in front of the White House I came across another potential brother. I don’t remember his name, but do remember the encounter.
I was walking in downtown D.C. and paused at a bus stop (where there was a half-wall for me to lean on) to check the navigator on my phone for directions to my next stop. I wasn’t there a minute before an older black man came up to me and started telling me his “sob” story. He mentioned that he was a veteran, which always piques my interest, so I gave him $5 even though I wasn’t sure if his story was true or not.
This time, however, instead of quickly walking off, I stayed with him about 10 more minutes just talking & listening. I heard about his time in the military. I saw the pride in his eyes as he told me about his children and grandchildren, then how he’s helping them financially. I listened as he told me about his troubles and about the house he owned in another state that he was trying to sell which would get him out of the financial troubles he’s having now. I realized that we had a lot more in common than I would have believed just 10 minutes before.
These are just two of the encounters that I have had while living near Washington D.C. Both of them have helped me to look at people differently and not accept the first impression I might normally have of them. They’ve helped me to see that more times than not, we have more in common with the homeless guy or the protester than we might at first think. They made me realize that I may have many more brothers out there.