Monday, February 4, 2013

The Activists in Your Own Backyard

Act #35:   Be a silent activist.

In my lifetime I've probably written hundreds of letters to legislators, corporations, and newspapers,  to reaffirm my position on something, to appeal for change.  I've taken part in children's rallies, Take Back the Night rallies, civil rights rallies, and anti-war demonstrations.  This blog itself proves that I have a lot to say and I know exactly how I want to be heard.  I used to be that annoying girl. You know the one who couldn't fathom why on earth you wouldn't join me at a rally.  Why on earth you haven't written to your legislators.  What would possibly keep someone from signing a petition that promotes peace?  How could anybody in their right mind sit back and do nothing?  And then one day, it finally hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was the reason that change was not occurring. 

Much like many of the senators I contacted, corporations that I wrote, my outspoken personal convictions over the years helped to create a bubble of judgement around me that often times shut down any possibilities of furthering conversation.  There are incredible people who walk right by me every day and change the world from where they stand, through small, but extraordinary acts.

Suddenly I find myself surrounded, like I always have been, by countless silent activists, who go about their lives daily and impact change right where they are, right as they are, sometimes without even uttering a word. This weekend alone, I came across three. Look around, and you'll see them too.   Look closely, you may even see yourself.

Thank you -

To the gentleman who didn't get aggravated with the overly chatty, and socially inappropriate deli clerk, although he was clearly holding up the line.  Who actually engaged him in conversation, asked him genuine questions about himself, treated him like a human.  You never know, he may have stopped a lonely, troubled soul from finding more harmful ways to validate his worth and become noticed.

To the evangelical Christian man who, despite his own religious views towards homosexuality, spent substantial time mentoring two young gay men this weekend.  Not because he wanted to save their souls, but because he valued them as human beings.  And thanks also to the two men, who continue to respect and look up to him, and who continue to seek commanality rather than reasons to stop talking.

To the well-dressed man in the alley, who stopped during his lunch break to share a cigarette (and eventually a few dollars) with the homeless man pushing a shopping cart.  For listening to his story and for valuing his journey.

To all of you out there who will never write to your senators, who will never hold a protest sign, and who will never sign a petition - thank you, for reminding the rest of us that true change happens at the most basic level when we begin to talk to each other.  When we begin to see each other for who we really are.

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