“No child should have to go to bed without their parents to tuck them in.” Alex Kohn
Sitting arm in arm we survived the hot afternoon sun while raising our voices for those who cannot raise theirs. What brought us together on this uncomfortable afternoon was our determination to lift our voices against our country’s separation of children from their families along our southern border. Due to the heat, quite a few of us felt sick but we stayed. We stood and sang and then we sat and chanted, and we stayed. We stayed because we believe strongly that taking children away from their families and putting them in cages and camps is wrong. It is wrong no matter what spin our legislators give it. Or in the case of Maine legislators, their silence over it. And so we rise.
In the days leading up to our protest we had training in non-violent civil disobedience. It was helpful. But the fear I experienced continued. We were told we could be arrested. I guess attempting admission onto federal property it not encouraged, so I paused. I hesitated. Then in my mind I brought forward the photos of the children and I agreed to move forward. If not now, when? We all know that it is never ok to take children from their families yet we are doing it and many are looking away while it is being done. This is something I truly do not understand. What causes so many of us to look away?
Never Again is something many shout as we witness what our country is doing along our southern border and throughout our country. It is a chant that refers to the Nazi concentration camps of WWII as well as the rounding up of a group of people. The similarities are too hard not to notice, so we chant. Never Again is Now.
“What was accomplished?” a friend asked. I admit that I wondered about that too. How could I not? Since today was another hot day and I was recovering from a bit of heat stroke I got from yesterday, I reflected on that question. I have come to several conclusions. None of it was about us. None of it. And every person there yesterday knew that. It was about the kids. The kids who were taken away from their families. Kids who are still in these horrid places scattered around our country. It was for the kids who we have “lost” because we didn’t bother to maintain a data base on them. It’s about the kids who go to sleep night after night alone, away from their families and loved ones. It’s about the kids who have died because we didn’t care enough to take care of them. We risked arrest so that our voices could carry their silence to others to hear. Did they listen? We shall see. Will more join us next time? We shall see. If not now, when?
Did we change anything? I believe we did. I find myself thinking of that butterfly analogy. When a butterfly flaps it’s wings we feel ripples from the effects of its flapping at just the right moment even though we are very far away. Did we cause the release of kids? Not immediately but hopefully as more and more people around the country rise up, more and more of our voices will be heard and harder to ignore. That’s one reason why it’s important. We can’t sit idly by and watch evil taking place. We need to go on record as standing up against this. But another reason is that there is strength in solidarity, standing with others who share your belief. And we need that strength right now because evil is being committed during our watch. How do we want to be remembered? By being silent and complacent? Or doing everything in our power to stop it. This evil is much bigger than we are but together we become a force to stop it. I believe it is happening. And in this belief and need, we rise.
For the children. May we all find the courage and the moral compass to rise together. Never again is now.