Washington D.C. – On Friday, I saw a unified front as Donald Trump was inaugurated president. By Saturday, the streets of D.C. were full of angry protestors and the streets were littered with trash.
Over the weekend, I had several opportunities to talk to protestors on the D.C. train while traveling in and out of the city. Although their clothing, signs, posters, and pins conveyed a hostile and angry message, the interactions I had with protestors on the D.C. train were not that way at all. While it was clear what we were there for and it was clear what they were there for, we were civil with each other. It brought to mind how easy it is to disconnect ourselves from others and forget how to be respectful. Whether it’s speaking our minds on social media or holding up a sign in a large group in a protest, it’s easy to forget the old adage “Remember who you are.” For most of us, that one post or that one sign in no way reflects the big picture of who we are as a person. It’s a moment that we get caught up in. Sometimes, those moments can get mean and nasty. I know there were plenty of nasty posters in D.C. on Saturday. I’m thankful my daughter cannot read yet. The signs did not reflect my family’s values.
Most of the time, when you get one-on-one with a person you will see something completely different than what you might see on social media or even in a large protest. In large groups, although we might be likeminded, we lose our identity. When we separate ourselves from the group, we have a name, family & friends, favorite places to eat, hobbies, individual values, and all of the other things that make us who we are. In all the conversations I had on the trains, none of them had to do with their protesting. I made conversation and the barriers, that individuals were putting up as a member of a group, came down.
On Friday, as we were riding back on the train to our vehicle, I struck up a conversation with the lady beside me. Her bag indicated that she was not in D.C. to welcome our new president. At the end of our conversation, the lady said, “You’re a really nice person.” I told her, “I think you’re a nice person too.”
Last night, my wife and three year old daughter were standing on a crowded train when a woman wearing one of those “pink toboggans” offered my wife and daughter her seat. It was a kind gesture that my wife accepted. Later in the evening, there were a couple of young ladies from New York City holding really nice cameras. I spoke to them about photography, something all three of us enjoy. They showed interest in our daughter and were asking her questions about her favorite characters and movies. One of the young ladies asked if our daughter watched Sound of Music and our daughter’s face lit up. “All the time”, I responded. I tried to get our daughter to sing the “Do, Re, Mi” song, but she wasn’t quite ready for that. Our child brought out the warm and friendly character of those young ladies. I found out what one of them really wanted to do with herself and I tried to offer her encouragement. Because they were from NYC, I talked to them about my cousin who preaches in NYC.
I’ve grown up hearing the phrase “You catch more flies with honey.” This is something we can all learn from. I’m thankful for the interactions I had with protestors on the D.C. train. If they had not taken place, the only image I would have in my mind would be the vulgar chants and the destructive behavior of the masses that took place around our beautiful Capitol over the weekend. Instead, I was able to see some kindness from individuals from within the masses and that was a valuable experience. The poster pictured above has the word “Decency” written on it. Although this sign was carried by a protestor, decency was a word that was forgotten during protests over the weekend. When the protestors I met were separated from the group, and engaged as individuals, decency reappeared and that was a very good thing.