On Being a Neighbor: January 29, 2017

Dear Mr. VP,

Today I went to a protest in Boston’s Copley Square. My kiddo was with me, and despite missing a nap, was a total rock star. A friend came too, and then…thousands and thousands of friends came.

As I have for months now, I struggled for the right words to tell G (that’s my kid) why we were there to protest and what was happening politically. Finally, I told him “We’re going to protest because Donald Trump and people in the White House are not being good neighbors. It’s important that we be good neighbors and help people.” I know it’s so much more than that, but how do you explain immigration and refugees and religion to a 3.5 year old? And isn’t what it really comes down to that we’re hating our neighbors rather than helping them? Mr. Rogers must be rolling over in his damn grave.

Today, despite what’s happening on the national scene, I was struck by the neighborliness (is that a word, even?) that we encountered at every turn. Part of the Orange Line was (SHOCKER) under construction and so we had to take a shuttle bus to the next T station. There were so many people going to Copley Square that there were no seats. As I struggled to hold on to G and keep myself upright as the Masshole bus driver did her Masshole thing, a young woman said to me “Would it be okay if he just sat on my lap?” And he did, happily, and she wrapped her arms around him and talked to him about Ninja Turtles for the duration of our ride. Again on the subway, a woman gave up her seat so that my child could sit, because he’s still too small to hold onto the railings on the train. She was going to the protest too, and she said “I think we’re going to be at a lot of these.” She told us we should get off at Back Bay instead of changing lines and going to Copley, which saved us time and hassle.

At the rally, people smiled at G’s sign and took pictures, and were careful to walk around him as he sat on the crowded sidewalk edge and ate an apple. When we stopped inside a restaurant to get a bite to eat and use the restroom, a friendly woman let us cut in line when she saw G start doing his very obvious bathroom dance. On the subway again, an older gentleman smiled at my exhausted son and waved me away when I tried to move G’s head off his shoulder, onto which it had fallen. He said “It’s okay, we’ll be friends,” and they fist bumped. They waved to each other as we departed the train a few minutes later.

All day, we encountered people being good neighbors. Being kind, helpful, and just downright lovely. But in the middle of it all, I was reminded why we were there:

I didn’t get a picture of that poster head-on, but can you see it? That’s a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach. The child in that poster could be my own — they’re probably about the same age — but for my kid’s fortune to be born in a different place and with a different color skin and a different religious heritage. Meanwhile, Syrian children are dying and we are turning them and their families away and saying “We don’t want you here. That huddled masses thing was just a nice sounding line. Goodbye.”

Mr. Pence, America is not being a good neighbor. And until that changes, Americans are going to be in the streets, and in the airports, and in your face, yelling, “No Hate. No Fear. Refugees are welcome here. No Hate. No Fear. Immigrants are welcome here.”


p.s. Pass my regards onto S. Bannon, please. Show him this.


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