Watching My Friend Meet Bernie Sanders

This is not an article and will not be edited for punctuation or grammar. It is a stream of consciousness and will not be reviewed or rewritten. I will sometimes use this space to just blog out to my friends, so that we might feel more connected. Things move at a certain pace on social media and people do a lot of talking past one another. I am suspicious of a medium that expects that we consolidate the essence of ourselves and our thoughts into fragments that people can absorb and be moved by, before their finger can flick the screen to the next message. I’m wondering if this method of methadoning for loneliness isn’t somehow detrimental to our wellbeing. I’m wondering if the nuances of what makes us human are getting lost in corporate algorithms that decide that you should see a picture of someone’s cat and then someone else’s food as substitution for actual human contact.

I wonder if Bernie Sanders ever just thinks “Fuck it! Fuck these apathetic people!! Let them have what they fucking deserve!!!”

I don’t think he ever thinks that. I’ve been watching the man very closely for a couple of years now. I was never moved like this before. I usually meet people and think “Man, if it wasn’t for (insert personality disorder here) they’d be really amazing.” But Bernie, he’s a better person than me. I try to be like him and fail, but I get closer with practice. It’s a zen thing. You can’t pretend to be Bernie. You just have to let go of outcomes and march towards what you know is right. You have to forget about ego and accolades and just act out of love. It’s hard sometimes. I’ve been watching him. All I see is strength.

I’m aware that there are those who do not get it and would say that those who do get it are basically cult members. Sure, that’s fair. I like belonging to a cult that’s about love and servitude. I believe we can make a beautiful world that way. When I feel down, I think of Bernie Sanders and how he doesn’t give up and I don’t give up and I don’t feel as down.

My friend texted me after the rally, Monday, and asked how it was. I replied

“I feel renewed. Bernie rallies are like church for us secularists.”

Can I tell you something amazing that happened at rally? First off, I am close friends with the keynote speaker at the thing, as well as having worked with most of the people who were standing behind Bernie on one political action or another, so if I wanted to be standing up there next to him I could be opportunistic and make that happen. But fuck that. That just makes me sick to even think about being that way. Bernie Sanders is a busy motherfucker. I’ve been within a few feet of him on several occasions. I just watch him and observe how kind he is to everyone. It’s incredibly genuine. I try to absorb that attitude and model it in my own life. I’m not even close, but now I know what it looks like.

When I was a little kid, I used to watch Little House on the Prairie. I’d watch Michael Landon’s character. He was such a good man. Not at all like my father or the junkies I had met in our home. Had I never watched that show, I wouldn’t have known what a good father was like. And I wouldn’t have known that the way I was being treated was abnormal. I’ve always modeled strong men since then. Bernie Sanders was the first man I’d seen in a while that really inspired me to try to improve some of my rougher edges. I want to be kind like he is. I’m pretty difficult to get along with sometimes.

Monday I saw Bernie fall backwards over some steps and my heart sank, but some heroic people caught him and stood him upright. I was imagining that the news might have caught that and that it may be used against him, should he announce he is running for president again, some nasty spin on the poor man’s stumble to try to make him look old. I hate that the world has come to that, but if they caught it, you know they put a pin in it to refer back to later.

Anyway, the rally ends and I’m standing next to the barrier with my friend Colt Silvers (badass name, right?), talking to my friend Michael Torres, the final speaker that day, telling him how amazing his speech was. Michael is such a humble man. He is beautiful and kind. He is a labor leader and he works very hard locally to advance the cause of the working man. Michael is a small, Hispanic man and I know that he is afraid to speak in public, especially after Bernie Sanders had just spoke. But he grabbed the microphone and rocked it. I watched him standing next to Bernie on the stage. I watched as everyone came over and took selfies with Bernie. I knew that Michael wanted to do the same, but I know he is not the type to bother someone for such things. He was standing right next to Bernie the entire evening and he never once bothered him. I was blown away by that.

BUT THEN SUDDENLY, as I was talking with Michael and Colt, Bernie Sanders starts walking towards us Colt says “I want you to meet Bernie!” at the same time Michael Torres, from inside the barrier says “I’m going to direct Bernie to you.”

I did not want to meet Bernie Sanders. I do not want to bother the man. I want him to go rest and spend time with his grandchildren. I do not want to exalt myself above others. But still, I was absolutely blown away by the selflessness of these two men. I stood there, accepting their offer of kindness, feeling awkward.

A mob converged on Senator Sanders and I wanted to tell him that we would start a fund to have guards protect him at all times because we just don’t like him walking around like this out in the open. That’s all I wanted to say to him. I always ask people what they said to Bernie when they met him and they always say that they cried and said “Thank you.”, which is probably what I would have actually said, had I met him, but what I wanted to say to him was that we were going to start a fund to protect him and ask him if he would accept the guards if we paid for them. But of course he would have said “No.” That’s just not how Bernie rolls. He isn’t afraid of anything. He knows his ideology is already unstoppable so he doesn’t fear for his mortality.

But I didn’t meet him…

Something better happened..

Michael Torres, who is so meek, bravely stepped right in front of Bernie Sanders and directed him to me. Bernie was overwhelmed, smiling and trying to listen to everyone at once. It looked extremely hard to be Bernie Sanders.

Michael Torres said “This is Michael E Sparks. He is writing a book about you.”

Michael Torres doing that, was about the most beautiful act of kindness I have ever seen. I would have been mortified to do that. I’m sure Michael was too. I had to pay this kindness immediately forward.

Bernie reached his hand through the crowd, right at me. Everything moved in slow motion, I looked at my friend Colt, who is an amazing man, who loves Bernie Sanders every bit as much as I do. I live loudly, so people know how I feel. Colt lives in a quieter way, but he is every bit the man I am. I knew instantly what needed to happen. I’m not sure if I actually grabbed Colt’s arm or if I just Jedi mind controlled his arm with my eyes, but either way, his hand grabbed Bernie’s and I got to watch my friend Colt Silvers shake the hand of his hero, Bernie Sanders. And if there’s one thing better than meeting Bernie, it’s watching that happen.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but that happened.

That will keep me smiling for a good long while.

Michael E Sparks is spreading peace and love through Independent media. His book, My Bernie Journey, debuts in October. There is also a new podcast in the works as well as a YouTube show (gotta buy a green screen and learn how to use it). Michael is currently working on editing interviews with Progressive activists that he collected while touring the country. If you believe in his mission you can donate by clicking HERE. Thank you sincerely to all those who are spreading love and light.

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