Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.
Every once in a while, something happens that reminds me of just how small our world is and how interconnected we all are. Like most everyone, I was saddened by the senseless, tragic shooting at the San Diego synagogue on Saturday, April 27. The story hit home for me when I found out that the only fatality in that shooting, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, was an Up With People alumnus. Most of you know that I had the opportunity of traveling for one year with the Up With People group. Up With People has a significant tie to Madison that goes back to 1979, when a cast of Up With People held staging here in Madison.
When I was a shy, young, skinny high school student, in 1977, a cast of Up With People came to Perry to perform. The group performed a short concert for the high school and I was very much looking forward to the show. At one point during the show, cast members would get members of the audience to dance to one of the musical numbers of the show. To my surprise, a very attractive cast member took my hand and persuaded me to dance. It wasn't difficult to convince me to participate. For a brief moment, I wasn't that skinny, shy kid; I was actually cool. Later that day, I had other students talking to me, telling me how cool it was that I was dancing with this girl. That experience had a greater impact on my life than I realized at the time. This was also the same time that Lori Gilbert-Kaye was traveling with Up With People. I'm not saying that this cast member who asked me to dance was Lori, but it does live in the realm of possibilities. It doesn't matter that much. It is an even greater possibility that the cast member who asked me to dance also knew Lori. It lives as a very real possibility that Lori was part of that cast who performed at my high school.
There are a couple of lines from an Up With People song that say: "I look into your eyes and I see my reflection. I walk along your street and it takes me home." In this world, we are more connected to each other than ever before. What seems to happen a world away can impact us in more ways than we can imagine. It lives as a possibility that the same hand that helped stop a bullet from ending the life of her Rabbi, could have been the same hand that asked me to dance. Even if it isn't, I feel a connection to Lori Gilbert-Kaye. We are connected, just as you and I are connected. We share the same sunny side.