Signs of the Times
In April, I wrote a post about how liberals and progressives were letting the Tea Party folks have all the visibility, while we spoke mainly to each other, preaching to the choir, as it were. I spoke about how "we" need to be more public. And that meant "I" needed to do something. I decided it was time for me to step forward and broadcast how I felt about America; what I wished for in American public life. So I worked with a printer to design five big signs for my lawn.
The signs stand about 3 feet high, are four feet wide and have text that is about a foot and a half high. Here are pictures of all of them, most of which were taken today in the rain on my back patio. (The one in front of my house does not feature the sentimental little statues from my mother's gardens that I keep on the patio.)
I rotate the signs out for two weeks at a time. The first one I put out was this one:
This one expresses one of the foundational beliefs on my faith. I am downright passionate about it. But when I set it up on my front lawn, I started to have some strange feelings. Will there be a negative reaction to this? Will there be vandalism?
There I was, making a positive faith statement, and I had an uneasy sensation in the pit of my stomach. What is up with that? This kind of spiritually-inclusive proclamation had me worried a bit. Now that has at least as much to say about the times we live in as it does my anxiety level.
I told an ordained UCC minister friend in Wisconsin about my feelings. She reminded me that I live in "liberal Massachusetts." I reminded her that my home is about 20 minutes from the African-American church that was burned down the day after Obama was elected ... yep, right here in liberal Massachusetts.
Well, so be it. As it also happens, I am promoting inclusive faith in a town with a big mega-church that espouses the opposite. I am usually private about my faith in my neighborhood, and here I am with a honking big sign about God's love on my lawn.
I did get a few of positive comments. One was from the young Russian lad who delivers my newspaper, one from my lawn guy, another from the postman.
Lots of people go on evening walks down my block. There is a park at the foot of the street and playing fields across from my house. I watched people walking their dogs. They'd scope the sign and keep on walking. I couldn't get a read on their opinion.
OK. Two weeks ago, this is the sign that went up the day of local primary elections. I have had no response about it in the two weeks that it has been up. I do not know how to take that. My guess is that people do not know if I am liberal or conservative with that statement. But I'm unsure how it is really perceived.
Here are the next three that will go up. This one goes up tomorrow.
I'll follow with this one:
And then this will round out the five that I had made:
I gave a lot of thought to what I would have on the five signs. I tried to synthesize what I hoped for; believed in. I didn't want to promote specific policy, specific laws. I wanted to talk about how we ought to be as a nation, about a God that includes rather than excludes, about speaking with respect, treasuring diversity, and about moving this country forward into a better future.
I wanted to promote values -- values about working together, promoting community, acknowledging our connectedness. I wanted to say that not all people of faith are right wing.
And I wanted to go public. I wanted to stand by what I believe -- openly and visibly. It isn't as easy as I thought it would be. But I am glad I am doing it, and learning from it. I "came out" as a faith-based progressive.
After I started "signing," I saw news about Jon Stewart's upcoming Rally to Restore Sanity on the Daily Show. It's coming up on October 30th. Maybe he'd like some bumper stickers from my signs? In any case, I'm glad someone else is making a quiet and positive fuss about the state of things.
Everything we do to promote civility, respect, inclusion -- it all helps. One thing I know for sure. My silence wasn't helping anybody.