BROWN, DR. DALE
Why the Shouting Stopped
I already knew that the sign I carried was definitely an attention-grabber. My wife and I, both 78 years young, had made the long journey to Washington, DC to join with others in a passionate plea for peace. When considering what message to share on the sign I would carry, I hit upon the idea of simply attaching my favorite bumper sticker to both sides of a small piece of cardboard, mounted on a tall stick
While carrying my thought-provoking sign at the march and rally, at least a dozen fellow marchers had come close to me to read the relatively small print, then asked, "May I take a picture of you with your sign?" I enjoyed this at first, but later, wearying a bit of such attention, I handed the sign to my wife. She then "enjoyed" the attentions of one photo-shoot after another, just as I had. I had to chuckle, but I also had to ponder the power of my sign's message.
Then it was time for us to join the march. We soon looked to our left, and saw that an energetic counter-demonstration group had gathered there. Tension was in the air. The angry counter-demonstrators pressed closer and closer to the wire fence which the police had put in place to keep our two groups separated.
Then the shouting began. "Commies! Communists!" Name-calling and insults were hurled from their side of the wire fence to ours. The irony struck me as some marchers on our side of the fence --- while carrying signs with pleas for peace ---hurled the epithets back with energy.
I had an idea. With my sign once more in hand--- and with much perseverance--- I slowly squeezed my way through the shouting protesters on our side of the fence. Finally, I was close enough to touch the fence, and to look into the eyes of the counter-protesters. Without a word, I raised my sign high, up above the wire fence which divided us.
The voice of the most strident name-caller on the other side rang loud and raucous in my ears, and I saw the intensity of emotion on his face. I saw many other faces also contorted with anger. Then, suddenly, that loudest voice was quiet.
Mystified, I looked into the face of the previously most energetic name-caller, and I saw that his eyes were lifted up, his lips moving silently as he read my sign. I was then astounded when his eyes dropped from my sign to lock onto my eyes, and he gave me a warm, genuine smile--- which I gratefully beamed back at him. As we stood there sharing the moment, I realized that our side had ceased their counter-shouting, too!
We had found, and were silently celebrating, common ground --- something that linked us together, heart to heart, through that wire fence.
When Jesus said, "Love your enemies,"
I think he probably meant, "Don't kill them."