PERRY: Get a grip on your reality, Aurora: civility, generosity and tolerance


It could be that we’re all going to be alright anyway.

It certainly doesn’t feel that way these days. With Donald Trump being a one-man presidential parody team all day, every day, the nation has learned to check their White House news reports like worrisome weather alerts.

Thursday: A 20 percent chance of tariff hikes before noon. Blustery conditions later giving way to intermittent showers of conspiracy theories, Clinton insults and racist taunts. Friday: Sustained blizzard of lies and threats.

We have become a country under siege from our own president, deranged gunmen, mobile phone fraud, outspoken racists and endless traffic jams.

Stanislav O’Jack says not to despair. He says his recent visit to Aurora is proof that there’s actually hope for all of us.

Stan should know. He’s seen a lot in his 92 years.

He now lives in Rock Springs, Wyoming. A retired psychologist, he’s spent time on all sorts of places on the globe. During World War II, he fought in all three theaters of that war.

He still is thankful that he survived, when so many Americans and others did not. Being a veteran of World War II doesn’t define him, but it never escapes him.

It didn’t evade him a couple of weeks ago when Stan and his wife came to Aurora to visit friends and family. They drove down for his wife’s reunion of nurses who all graduated from CU Boulder.

Marveling at Aurora’s rich diversity, they decided to have Indian food at Monsoon in Southlands.

He loved it. They had a great time on their date night. They couldn’t help but notice how friendly everyone in the restaurant was, and how diverse the customers and staff were. Patrons were black, Hispanic, Indian, white and just about everything else that makes Aurora a unique place in the metro area, and the state.

Stan said the food was amazing and they enjoyed everything about it.

There was a four-top next to them, two somewhat older men and two older women; two couples. As they stood up to leave, they came to Stan’s table.

“They each took a moment to face me and said, ‘thank you for your service.’”

Stand and his wife were taken aback by how cordial they were, and how casually genuine the moment was. In a world where so many car drivers are just rude, people are indifferent and so many people’s lives are just about theirs, he and his wife were astonished.

“It absolutely speaks to the kind of people who live here in this community,” Stan said.

When he and his wife got ready to leave, he found out the foursome had also paid for his dinner.

He’s had a lot of time since VJ Day in 1945 to think about what it meant for him to serve his country, and what it’s meant for other veterans. Beyond the clear sacrifices that so many millions of vets have made over the years, there’s the aspect of giving, selflessly, to a greater cause.

He thinks that’s what his anonymous friends were doing as well. They seemed genuinely appreciative for what he did a very long time ago, but Stan’s convinced they took the time to be generous and thoughtful because they found it important to contribute to a greater cause: civility and our common humanity.

He came across a copy of Sentinel Colorado and realized that the newspaper reflected what he saw. Aurora is a vibrant, culturally diverse and engaged place where people matter. All people.

So Stan called me the next day and asked me to tell all of you that there’s a world of people out there who appreciate a community where the person ringing up your groceries wears a hijab and speaks English with a strong accent, and it’s really neither all that unusual or remarkable. It’s a community where people from all over the planet interact at gas stations, schools, malls and dentist offices with comfortable eye contact and smiles. It’s a place where politicians find it important to tout their attendance at Ethiopian festivals and immigrant prison protests. It’s a place where gay pride festivals draw newsmakers and throngs of neighbors comfortable with all our differences and appreciative of them.

So Stan and his wife want you all to know, Aurora, there are others who feel the same way most of us do here, repulsed by and insulated from the part of our country trying to divide us with our civility and diversity, when we know so much better and act on it.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]