I consider myself to be a peacemonger, social justice activist/pacifist, crunchy granola left of center gracefully aging hippie. Since my 20s, I have attended rallies, vigils, marches, and protests for the ERA, no-nukes, gun safety, environmental protection, immigrants’ rights, getting out the vote, LGBTQ+ rights, civil rights, and women’s rights. I write and speak about these topics with a boldness that sometimes stuns people who remind me that my words are divisive and I shouldn’t take sides. Somehow that makes me less spiritual.
I call B.S. on that! Weren’t Moses, Jesus, the Buddha, and Kwan Yin rabble-rousers, or as my friend Rabbi Rami Shapiro might refer to them, holy rascals? I add to that list His Holiness the Dalai Lama who in his inimitable way, speaks truth to power. I don’t see the current chaos we are facing as a matter of everyone’s right to their own opinion, with good people on both sides. If someone’s opinion threatens the safety, rights, and life of others, then I would say that all bets are off. If someone claims not to be racist, sexist, or homophobic but supports those who are with their votes, then in essence that elected official is doing their dirty work for them. When I hear the vitriol and blatant lies that are meant to fit an agenda, I feel a gut-twisting bile rise and I want to lash out, demanding what right they have to cause harm for their own benefit.
Yesterday I was in a convenience store and the man behind me proudly wore a hat which made his voting preference known. I wanted to ask him the simple question, ‘why?’. I didn’t, because I had no clue what his reaction would be. Would it get heated? Would it become dangerous? So I walked away, beaming out thoughts that his heart be healed. When I do that, I feel calmer. I have conflicting thoughts because I would imagine he would think that I was the one who was deluded and dangerous.
I live in an area of Pennsylvania in which both blue and red voting people live. While there are many peace and social justice events in Doylestown near where I reside, (last night there was a vigil honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) there are also many who turn a blind eye to the realities of the world. I found out a few weeks ago that one of my favorite local businesses had a visit from Ivanka Trump. I cringed and then decided to vote with my wallet. Their baked goods, as yummy as they are, are not worth selling my soul for.
In a 10 mile radius, as I drive around, I count more signs supporting the current occupant of the Oval Office than the one I want to open the curtains and shine light into the pitch-dark corners of our country. I instinctively flip them the bird. When I do see a growing number of Biden-Harris signs along the way, I blow them kisses.
A week ago, I had a serendipitous encounter with a woman who I saw hanging a huge Biden-Harris banner on her fence and a few smaller signs on the surface. I felt compelled to turn around and talk to her. We commiserated about the state of the world and then talked about the ways in which we were taking a stand. It turns out that we both work in the same field (psychotherapy) and that her supervisor is a former co-worker of mine. Her decision to boldly declare her message bolstered mine to order a sign for my own yard. I had some concerns about the safety of my signage since some of my neighbors display their support for #45. Rather than placing them at the street access level, I put them in front of my window since, if someone had in mind to take them, they would have to trespass on my property. I was moved by a sense of defiance and a wish not to be intimidated by visual representation of support for the force for evil rather than good.
Update: Since I wrote this article, I received a visit from a neighbor I had not met before who knocked on my door with stickers she had printed. Still nervous about putting them on my car, but I did put two of them on the altars I have in my house to bless them with good mojo. I will carry the rest with me to give to others who may be braver than I am, to use as bumper stickers. That same day, I saw that several more signs have popped up in the yards of neighbors I have known and loved since I moved to my house in 1993. I feel a growing sense of hope and momentum for an uncontestable BIG BLUE WAVE.
I babysit my 8-month-old grandson four mornings a week and as we watch tv, commercials come on with the visages of the two candidates in larger than life forms. I point out to him that the man with the white hair who speaks calmly but passionately cares about his future and the man with the orange face who is shouting, doesn’t. A new campaign slogan? Babies for Biden!
One of my favorite social-justice-oriented musicians is Michael Franti. His song Show Me Your Peace Sign reminds me that we all need to stand next to each other since the revolution is NOW!
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Photo courtesy of the author.