Love thy neighbor as thyself. – Jesus of Nazareth
As you may have previously read in this blog, Hannah and I missed the Women’s March on the day after the president was inaugurated. During our first week in California, Hannah spots an announcement in the Santa Barbara Independent for a local peace rally; life is about second chances, and the universe just gives us one.
With the rally at 2P this Saturday, traveling the four-lane 101 highway from our cottage in Summerland to downtown Santa Barbara is easy peezy, far different from the weekday commuting snarls. Persuasively, many in the Santa Barbara area feel that widening sections of The 101 to six lanes will only make the traffic worse. Wider highways encourage more people to drive rather than to use the current bus system; the county commission also has less incentive and resources to invest in mass transit.
As we approach de la Guerra Plaza, we hear the first of many clergy and publicly-elected officials addressing the crowd of 400, protesting the president’s recent executive order barring nationals from seven primarily Muslim countries from entering the United States.
The irony can’t be lost on even the president’s most loyal apologists, that not one of these countries has ever harbored a terrorist that attacked the United States; while Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, home of 19 of the 2o 9/11 terrorists and business partners of the president, have been left off the list.
Organizer Aida Aminzai, co-founder of Blessed Tree Foundation and mother of three, explains, This event was really just to show solidarity and support of the Muslim community. Click here to learn more about the Blessed Tree Foundation.
State senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) wants an America that loves and invites everyone to its shores. We (California) overwhelmingly in November rejected the politics of hate, misogyny, and bigotry and we will not stand for it now, not now, not ever.
By the way, California cast 8.8 million votes for Hilary Clinton and 4.5 million for her opponent. Another reason to fall in love with the Golden State!
As an imam, a rabbi, and mainstream Christian clergy defended the rights of the weakest among us, I feel a pride in being an American where the first Amendment lives. Where people are not intimidated by hate speech and power. One minister mentioned, you do know that Jesus’s parents were Middle Eastern immigrants?
In a nation of immigrants, the Rothermels came from Germany and the Archers (my mom’s family) from England while the Kraais (Hannah’s dad’s family) emigrated here from Holland while the Harrises (Hannah’s mom’s family) came from England.
Today at the rally, there are middle schoolers with parents who want them to live more than privileged lives that many of us have. There are moms and dads with strollers, not content to stay home preparing the chips and dip for tomorrow’s Super Bowl. This southern California crowd is diverse by race, religion, ethnicity, and income. It is the face of America in the 21st century.
I can’t shake the feeling that this is going to be a seminal time that bookends the Sixties when Hannah and I were coming of age. Hannah has come to the rally to be a supportive presence for all those who have been marginalized. I am a here as a witness to the people who are not taking the injustices lying down.
After the rally, Hannah and I donate to the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine to protect the First Amendment. The ACLU reports, Since the election, we have seen the greatest outpouring of support [in] our nearly 100-year history, greater than the days after 9/11.
Oh, the First Amendment is packed with challenges to the current administration – freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly, and the right to petition grievances (i.e. protest!)
Despite the challenges of our time, I believe much good will emerge from the shocking events of this past November 8. Already this Administration has galvanized resistance to make ours a Nation of Light, not Darkness.
Addendum #1 – By attending the Unity of Santa Barbara church service in late February, Hannah and I learn that fire has destroyed the mosque of the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara just the weekend before. Fortunately, we get to donate to the effort to rebuild the mosque. Folks collecting money don’t think it was arson, but that was my first thought.
Addendum #2. While attending an earlier Unity of Santa Barbara service, Hannah and I hear this parable from Reverend Larry, whose talk is about inclusion. He ends with this story that I paraphrase.
A cowboy comes into the church service with torn jeans, scruffy boots, and a worn hat. The parishioners shun him. After the service the minister comes over and says, “Before you return to the service, please talk to God about what is appropriate to wear in a church?” The cowboy said he would.
Next week, the cowboy returns with the same torn jeans, scruffy boots, and worn hat. Again, he is shunned. At the end of the service, the minister comes over and says, “I thought I asked you to talk to God about appropriate attire for church.”
The cowboy says, “I did. She told me she didn’t know what it was because she has never been in this church.”