From the Archives: “The Naked Truth About Humanity”

June 3, 2020

My cousin shared a post from my late father’s blog this morning after it popped up in her Facebook “memories”. Revisiting the blog myself, I found this post that Dad wrote in 2018 shortly after our Father’s Day trip to downtown Madison. I’m sharing it with you now for countless reasons. If you have to ask me why, you should probably just read the piece.


I’m beginning to think people are just… beautiful.

This morning, I went with J and G to the farmer’s market in the culturally-diverse city of Madison, Wisconsin. We saw a lot of people. And some of them we saw a lot of (more about that in a minute).

People of Lord-knows how many nationalities — forty, fifty? When we’re smiling, don’t we all seem as one? Excited children tugging their parents onward, eye-rubbing children wanting to be done with it, every skin tone and hair color you can imagine, people buying and selling, cash flying, thank-you’s exchanged in a hundred different accents, people admiring and petting each other’s dogs, people gobbling up fresh strawberries and sugar snap peas and pastries and cheese curds, people bumping into each other and saying, “excuse me,” and nobody seeming to care about how anybody else looked.

Good people wearing serene expressions on a sunny morning in what appears to be, relatively speaking, a good life.

May I suggest, if you ever want to have your faith in humanity restored, find some people to be around. Then relax yourself, suspend all judgments, expect nothing in return, and just smile or be at peace or think kind thoughts or observe the ways that other people are just like you, and just see what happens. It doesn’t have to be a happy place like a farmer’s market; it can be a frantic place like an airport or a hospital or a busy store. Just go there with the right attitude and you’ll see — they are just like you.

People are expressing a lot of anger against other people these days, blaming other people for the problems of the world, pointing fingers, questioning motives, drawing unfair comparisons, making thoughtless and snarky and insensitive remarks. It’s a losing game. It’s easy to say, as whining children do, “they started it.”

I won’t speculate on who started it, but I can tell you that somebody profits from it. Pick any mean-spirited or one-sided meme on Facebook, and if you could follow the money, chances are it was planted by a think-tank with some political or corporate backers. Somebody wants us to distrust each other, because distrust is the basis for whatever belief system they are trying to promote.

Hatred is effective, and I have lost patience with anybody who participates in it or any institution that politely shies away from confronting it.

As it happens, our visit to the capitol square coincided with the 9th annual World Naked Bike Ride, Madison edition. As the name of this event suggests, it’s a naked bike ride featuring naked bike riders, probably more than a hundred of them.

What’s the point, you ask? I wasn’t riding with them, so I can’t say. But if you had been there and looked some of them in the eye (yes, they were close enough that you could see their eyes, and everything else), if you had seen the fun they were having and the frivolity they inspired and heard their interactions with the crowd, you wouldn’t need to ask what was the point.

As the commotion approached, and word spread about what was causing it, people started to laugh. Because that’s what you do when a potentially awkward situation approaches. But as they rode by with their body painting and funny signs and outrageous attitudes, people started to cheer and to shout encouragement, and to laugh some more and smile and feel good.

Because that’s what you do when people do something that takes courage and a little craziness. And that’s what you do when people aren’t afraid to be human, and to show they are human.

Warts and all. Emphasis on all.

But some of the riders showed they really did have an ulterior motive. I saw a couple of them looking directly into the crowd, and I heard them shout, “Love your stuff –

“You are all beautiful people!”

6 thoughts on “From the Archives: “The Naked Truth About Humanity”

  1. Hi Grace,

    I thought about Joe’s post this morning and just read it again.

    What a kind person. I would love this to be printed in the State Journal but would only suggest it. I really needed to read your Dad’s beautiful words right now.

    My friend Marty is a photographer and has taken photos of the naked bike ride in Madison. Its quite an event I’ve been told. Would you be okay with me forwarding your Dad’s post to him with the understanding that it would not be for publication in any way? I think he would love it.

    Thanks again Grace, such comforting words.



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