This weekend I was reminded again, how we are all connected. How we are all neighbors. And how we all are standing with each other.
Our town of Davis, is known as one of the most liberal communities in America. You may have heard of us. Rush Limbaugh (who worked in Sacramento for many years) refers to us as “the people’s republic of Davis.” We have a toad tunnel (good idea, didn’t work so great). We are a nuclear-free zone and a Sanctuary City. Our bicycle-to-person ratio is about even (with the bikes winning).
Our town is mostly good, but sometimes bad things happen here. Last week, our beautiful Mosque was vandalized. Broken windows, slashed bicycle tires, and perhaps the most emotional and disgusting act, bacon wrapped around the door handles.
It was a difficult week for all of us, but imagine what it must be like to be visibly Muslim, and to know that you are on the government’s list, based on your religion?
But then a neighbor stood up. And another. And another. Hundreds of neighbors, connected by our need to do something, anything, for social justice, human rights, religious freedom (hey that sounds familiar, isn’t that what our country was based upon?).
On a sunny Friday afternoon, we gathered in Central Park, to support our friends and neighbors. The crowd stood in silence, as we witnessed our Muslim brothers and sisters in prayer.
I saw my friend, Kamal, in the front row of the prayer group, and was honored to hear him offer the Call to Prayer. I’ve known Kamal and his wife, Anne, since Alex and their son, Nassim, were four. They went through school together, birthday parties and play dates and graduated from high school together.
My friend, Robb Davis, who is now our town’s mayor, spoke emotionally about our collective brokenness and shame, and the power of love. I worked with Robb at Freedom from Hunger, and Steve and I are good friends with him, his wife Nancy, and his daughter, Kara. We did Robb’s campaign materials when he ran for office two years ago.
Steve and I stood with our good friends, Dave and Vicki, who we have known since our girls were ten, playing softball together. I saw Sheila across the way, her daughter played with ours.
I realized later that the organizer of the event, Kate Mellon-Anibaba, is the older sister of one of Alex’s dear friends. They spent several summers together as camp counselors in Marin County.
A woman came up to me and identified herself as someone I worked with at Explorit, many, many years ago. She’s been reading the blog ever since, and was inspired by my previous piece on Resistance. She’s starting a website with resources for resistance. I hope I can help her.
The speakers stood on the steps of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, one of our favorite clients. The logo Steve designed for them is one of his best pieces of work, ever.
We stood behind a group of young Muslim girls, wearing jeans and hijabs. Younger than my daughters, but reminding me of them.
I looked around, and saw my neighbors. I saw my town, connected and connecting. Protected and protecting.
Our country supervisor, Don Saylor, said “This is not something foreign,” he said. “This is not something strange and faraway. It’s us. This is our community.”
Yes, it is.
While we were standing side-by-side, in the sun, on a beautiful Friday afternoon, the president was signing his shameful executive order to ban refugees from certain countries (though not the ones where he does business) from entering our country. Alex works for IRC, teaching cultural orientation classes for newly arrived refugees, many of them from Syria and Iraq (including some who worked for the U.S. government). Refugee resettlement has become a daily topic in our home.
I have hope that our connection and our commitment to each other, the neighbors we know, and the ones around the corner, will be stronger than the government that is working to break us. And I am trying my best to stand up, speak up and support others.
Because, we are connected. Even in ways we don’t yet know.
The Davis Vanguard had a nice piece on the event. Thanks to all who made this possible. I am honored to be in your community.