In a bygone era of 6.5L turbo-powered awesomeness, we owned a Detroit Diesel GMC Suburban. I could go on and on for a very long time about this vehicle and the time, blood, sweat and tears I put into it. However, that is not for today. When I bought the Suburban, I joined a forum for diesel truck owners. It is a conglomeration of people from across the country who all happen to own diesel powered vehicles. This particular forum focuses very heavily on GMC and Chevrolet offerings. They include the afforementioned 6.5 liter, the 6.2 liter (pre-6.5), and the Duramax (post-6.5). Of these three types, about 80% of the people on the forum are 6.5L owners. At this juncture, I’d like to give my observation on two things regarding my experience with my beloved Suburban:
1. If you’re going to own an older diesel vehicle, you either need to be independently wealthy or learn how to work on your own truck. I am blessed to have a friend who was a GM certified mechanic before becoming a cable guy. He was HUGELY helpful and literally saved me thousands of dollars in labor. Thanks, Brandon.
2. No matter how much you learn about your vehicle, there is always something you don’t know. It would follow, then, that no matter how much he learned, there will always be something your GM certified mechanic buddy won’t know. When, not if, you run into one of these situations, you will need help.
That’s where the forum comes into play. I was amazed at how quickly I’d be able to find solutions to problems just by browsing issues other people had already posted. It seemed like every issue had been dealt with over the course of thousands of posts. If I had an issue I couldn’t find, I’d post my problem in a new thread. I’m not exaggerating when I say I never had to wait more than twelve hours for a response. They may not have had the answer right away, but they wanted to help. The people on the forum have also saved me thousands of dollars in labor, and I’ve appreciated every bit of assistance I’ve gotten from total strangers. Mid-July, with much sadness, I sold that Suburban and bought an ’01 gas Suburban.
I still check the diesel forums a couple times a day to see how people are doing and see what new stuff I can learn. The quickest way to see what people are dealing with is to click the “Today’s Posts” link at the top of the page. This filters the posts by date and then by whether I’ve already read it or not. The results are a cross-section of topics because it doesn’t sort by topic. Any forum will be divided into main sections and then sub-topics. One of the main sections is “Off-Topic”, and one of its sub-topics is “Politics and Religion”. There is a disclaimer on this sub-topic stating: “WARNING: this forum contains strong opinions and discussions will get heated from time to time…if you are easily offended, enter at your own risk!”
Apparently, that disclaimer is a green-light to say whatever you want about anyone you want. The poison that lives in and comes out of these super-helpful people is shocking. In the same sentence they’ll be talking about how bad our President is and how it’s time for him to get assassinated so God can bless our country again. They rail against immigrants and how much better our society would be if they’d all just go home or be exterminated. They talk about carpet-bombing the Middle East, Ukraine and Africa. Terms like “pieces of shit” and “sub-human” are not uncommon. Very often, agreement with the original statement follows and things get worse.
First, it made me angry. Then it made me sad. Then I got angry again. Now I’m a little angry and mostly sad when I think about it. These are good people who have helped me with many problems. How could such hatred and poison be coming out of such a nice person? This is what happens when we stop viewing our world through God’s love.
I was on my way home last night by myself. I turned off of a busy street onto the alley my house is on only to find it blocked by a car with its hazard lights on. This is not uncommon, but, this time, the driver was not in the vehicle. I could have tried to back onto the busy street again and go around, but that’s iffy on the best day. So I honked my horn; one short blast to let him know I was there. About a minute later, a guy came out of a house with a laundry basket. He set it down beside his car, walked to the driver’s door, opened the door and reached down to pop his trunk. He put the laundry basket in the trunk. Then he went back in the house. I was stunned. WHAT!?!?!?!? Seriously? You didn’t see the giant vehicle with its lights on sitting behind you waiting? He returned with a garbage bag, put that in the trunk, got into the driver’s seat and then pulled to the side of the alley. He didn’t leave, he just moved his car so I could go. YOU COULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT TO BEGIN WITH?!?!?!?!? I was unhappy.
I thought about that for a while. True, he shouldn’t have had the alley blocked. True, he wasted about three minutes of my time and about 0.002 gallons of my gas. Is that something worth freaking out about? Really? No, but that’s what happens when I stop viewing my world through God’s love.
You may say, “It’s ridiculous to compare a blocked alley with the purported demise of society due to our President and immigrants.” Is it? The bile spouted on the forum comes from the same place my anger about the blocked alley came from. When we stop seeing people as people, they become “them,” and it’s easy not to love a “them”.
I think a lot of it has to do with the word “people”. A lot of us would say that we’re supposed to love people. Sure. That’s easy. What if we say that we’re supposed to love persons? That’s different. People are groups from whom we can distance ourselves without having to feel any real effects. We can foster hatred and bigotry because it’s a “them”, not a “him” or “her”. However, persons are individuals made in the image of God. If we distance ourselves from persons, we end up distancing ourselves from God. We are called to persons. Jesus ministered to persons. Maybe the guy in the alley has a medical condition and he can’t walk very far. Maybe the laundry was heavy. Maybe he didn’t view it as taking that long. I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. What I do know and what does matter is that man is my neighbor. I’m called to love my neighbor. I don’t know his name, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have one. He’s not just “people”. He’s a person God loves. The only way to see people turn into persons is to look through God’s eyes of love.