When Ordinary People Stand

We began as strangers standing together on a corner in our town. We now are developing friendships as we share our belief that children should not be separated from their families and we should not put people fleeing violence in jails.

My capacity to tune in to the energy of love gives me the words I need when I’m ready to speak up…” Author unknown.

See the people in this photo? There are many photos just like this one. Photos around the country of everyday people, busy people, who all feel so strongly about what our government is doing that we stop for 1 hour each week to stand on a corner with signs. 1 hour, exactly. Then we all say our goodbyes, go back to our lives, and look forward to our hour together the following week. And none of us wonder why we do it. We know why. It’s the right thing to do when we see evil happening around us.

As we were standing today the conversations ranged from discussing the experiences standing on the corner last week while I was at Homestead, the asylum seeking families still at the Expo Center in Portland, our families, visitors who are visiting, recovery from surgery, good places to eat, etc. We sing to the guitar played by one of us. Cars drive by and enthusiastically beep and give thumbs up. When that happens someone blows in a trumpet or rings a cow bell. Every once in a while someone yells something mean or ignorant; we ignore it.

We also discuss how we are at the very least raising awareness and creating solidarity. People stop and ask questions. Some say thank you. Some say they will join us sometime. But today something a tad different happened. A man walked by and took close up and personal photos of us and our signs. He had a baseball cap on. As I watched him, cautiously, I noticed he was struggling. He was obviously emotionally overwhelmed. He walked by and then stood with us. Next time I looked up he was gone. He reminded us that what we do matters. It matters because we are individuals raising our voices because we can. And we should. We are raising our voices for those who can’t. I found myself wondering if he knew someone who couldn’t.

So many times I hear people say, “What can I do?” Here is my answer to you. Make a sign and stand on a corner. If you’re really lucky you can find a friend to stand with you. But if you can’t; stand alone. Others will join you. Your voices will rise up and drown out all the hate that so often takes over the air waves. For that one hour, love and acceptance will win. Imagine all the voices on all the street corners rising up to drown out the hate, the greed, and intolerance. Just do it.

Here’s a photo of me four months ago when I did just that. I made a crappy sign because I just couldn’t stand it anymore and I stood on a corner, alone, week after week. It was rather spiritual actually. It was important to me. It allowed me to give voice to the kids separated from their families and held against their will in inhumane prisons. It allowed me to give voice to their pain.

Early days of standing on the corner alone.

It didn’t take too long before a friend joined me and now we have a lovely group who dedicate an hour each week standing together on the corner. An older woman once asked me why. For the children. That’s why. But it’s also for me. For my soul. It is one small thing I can do to keep my soul intact.

Hope you join us on a corner near you. Trust me, you will be so glad you did. Click on this blue link to find a corner near you or start your own.

For the children who are still being separated from their families and who are being held in concentration camps all across our country we stand.

Mary(ellen)

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