I live in Baja Arizona, where we are grieving the failure of the Dream Act, where our famous SB1070 is very unpopular, and where we would never vote Sheriff Joe Arpaio into office again and again. Did I mention we have Democratic Congressmen/women here who voted FOR health care reform, FOR the Dream Act, FOR repeal of DADT ?
There is an article in today’s newspaper about an upcoming episode of the ABC show “What Would You Do?” filmed here in Tucson. When actors playing security guards, unbeknownst to the patrons and staff, confronted two hispanic-looking men eating dinner and demanded their “papers,” a woman objected.
“Excuse me. I don’t think you can do that.”
And when the Anglo guard aggressively repeated his demand, she said,
“Actually you can’t do that and that’s not going to happen right now, right here, today, so you just need to get on out of here now.”
She was supported by other patrons, who clapped when the “guards” left. Over and over, through two days of filming, almost no one sided with the “guards.” (read article here) http://azstarnet.com/article_f910c996-2e44-5572-9681-74afc877eae8.html
When later ABC’s John Quiñones, one of the “diners,” asked the patron why she should stood up for them, she said it was not political.
“I figured those guys probably had some wives and there were some little children involved, and I just didn’t want to see their families torn apart today.“
I am proud of Tucson today, but more than that, I was struck that the patron’s heartfelt defense of the two hispanic-looking diners seemed to her “NOT POLITICAL.” Yet to me, it was an courageous expression of progressive politics… taking empowered action as a citizen from the open-hearted conviction that we are indeed “our brother’s keeper.”
It hurts my heart that what is considered “political” is somehow separated in our minds from how we ordinarily live our lives. I know people who identify themselves as angry “Tea Party” activists, demanding we cut off funding for schools, unemployment benefits, and health care but who would risk their own lives to save a stranger from danger. I know people who identify as “Progressive” activists who would cheer if Sheriff Joe was injured by a rock hurled in protest.
So this morning I am reflecting on several questions
… how is it that peoples’ personal values are so easily abandoned through membership in some political “group,” with the political somehow only being identified with the angry, the “anti”? Do people feel anonymous? Are they caught up in “group think?”
… how can we be instrumental in reconnecting peoples’ hearts and personal values in family and neighborhood life, which are by and large caring and supportive, with the way we structure our lives as a nation? How do we make the political personal? How do we make neighbors of faraway strangers? How can we get media to focus more consistently on examples of the “higher angels” of our being?
And…honestly…would I have had the courage of my convictions if I had been the patron in the diner?