It’s been the best two weeks of my life. Well, almost. …at least the best in quite a while. I found a bounce in my step and a real zest for small things like a friend’s laugh, an eye exam, the bark of gnarly cedar and the fun of trying to sense if the tree’s energy is flowing clockwise or counter-clockwise.
It started with the women’s march which I ambled to with little expectation and was quickly overwhelmed by the unexpected…boundless good cheer, originality, and collective optimism, a thousand moments of rooted passion. And of course the turnout was invigorating. For a moment it seemed like at least a million people had come together in Austin alone.
A few days later my elderly doc put it in perspective: “One Saturday I showed up at the Capitol for a solar energy anti-coal rally and less than 200 people were there. At the women’s march I felt proud to live in Austin.”
In my city after that march, I sensed a tribal coming together almost like the hippie days. I sensed a quick kinship in conversations in odd places like with a Hispanic school teacher picking through the avocado bin at HEB. People seemed more ready to trust, and share thoughts. I hope I’m not projecting, but so many seemed unified with a sense that we are not going to allow anyone to steal what is the best of America.
A week later, I was overwhelmed that a thousand or so showed up at the Dallas airport – THE DALLAS AIRPORT! - to support people they didn’t know and would never meet, being detained by “Homeland Security.”
For those who don’t know Texas, just to get to DFW is a chore, and in the old days (prior to two weeks ago), one would imagine showing up and finding 8 other kindred souls protesting. This wasn’t some large planned action, but more of a spontaneous coming together via social media to do the right thing. Each person made the existential leap of faith, believing when they arrived others would be there.
At the International Terminal, nobody could see who security held shrouded behind the walls and curtains. They were nameless faceless people in the clutches of the State, held because they were snagged in new bureaucratic rules.
From what country were people and families being held? What were their stories? It didn’t matter. The protestors shared a spirit of openness and inclusion. Without plan, the chant began: “Let them in! Let them in!”
To belabor the obvious we inhabit one of two Americas. One part is anxious, feeling left out, belittled as “deplorables”, and worried about a future outside their control. These are genuine problems and should not be trivialized.
But I feel enthusiastic because in the urban centers the reaction to government foolishness has been so rapid and universal. I have a zest in my step because like you, our side believes American diversity is something to celebrate. Not something to fear.
And we share that with million upon millions of regular citizens who are already in action.
Jeffrey Nightbyrd Shero © 2017
Jeffrey Shero was the founding editor of the original Austin Sun.