What if Everyone Did That?

Today I spent a few hours working on my remarks for tomorrow’s LightsForLiberty vigil in Charlotte. I have several pages of somewhat disorganized notes. For a five minute speech that’s probably OK (for me), since the sorrow and anger in my heart plus my knowledge of the material will probably be enough, yet I’m sure I’ll fuss with it a bit more before the event. But let me shift gears if I may, because the point of this post is not for you to sympathize with my process. The point of the speech and the 100 days of action and the blogging and the rest of it is to close the camps. How we get from here to there is another point that deserves to be explored.

In my last post I talked about the personal sense that I was on some level experiencing an opening of the heart, a personal moral awakening. So that’s good for me, I suppose, it’s a nice warm feeling. I may be deluding myself that I’ve really awakened in some way, but I like the feeling, so I’ll try to enjoy it while it lasts. My feeling good, however, doesn’t get us to close the camps.

The way we get to that is that we begin with something your parents or your teachers may have taught you when you did something wrong: “What if everyone did that?” Well, that chastisement of course is to get you to stop doing something. But now I pose to you the question: What if everyone took 100 days of action to close the camps? Everyone from amateur activists like me to state and local politicians. Moms, dads, kids in high school – what if we all started marching, holding vigils, calling our representatives, raising money, signing petitions, holding up signs, speaking out in public places – whatever it takes to close the camps.

How long would the camps stay open?

A good friend of mine who I went to high school with recently told me that the world needs more people like me who are willing to take action. But twenty days ago, I was not a person like me, I was a person like you: Going to work and complaining about it. Spending time with my family. Cooking meals. Wondering how I’ll retire.

Then we started to hear about the kids in the camps again, as we did in 2018. Then the death toll mounted. Then we learned of no hugging rules, the government violating their own meek standards for the detention of children, pediatricians saying the conditions amounted to those found in torture facilities, people not being given their medicine, children sleeping on floors with only a mat an and a mylar blanket in rooms where they were so crowded they had to take turns sleeping. We learned that in one facility when the kids complained about the substandard food and water, the agents took their sleeping mats away as punishment. In the same facility a 15 year old girl was sexually assaulted in front of men, women, and children while the guards joked about it to each other in English.

Something in all that news at some point broke through my comatose American heart, waking me up like cold water. I decided to act. To do what I can. As William Barber says, I decided to speak out, “In every space, in every place.”

What if you joined me, and spoke out, and told your friends?

What if your friends joined us, and told their friends?

What if everyone did that?

Written on July 11, 2019