Continuing the discussion of getting out into the public square, using signs is a common way to try to convey your message.
The Quaker organization, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) has had a War is Not the Answer campaign in response to the military build up after the attacks on September 11, 2001, distributing more than 1 million bumper stickers, yards signs, and large signs you can hold. There is a story I can’t verify that Google maps were irritated by these signs showing up all over the place in their mapping photographs. Matt Southworth, who used to be in charge of this campaign, speaks about this in this YouTube video.
These were the main signs we have used during our weekly peace vigil in downtown Indianapolis. I was grateful for this well constructed, large, plastic sign yesterday when we got caught in a downpour of rain. We stayed for a while, under umbrellas, but it eventually became too much. As I headed home, I came upon a women trying to find a little shelter under a tree in the park, so I shared the shelter of the sign with her. I mentioned the reason I had the sign was our weekly peace vigil.
I must admit it felt a bit strange when, several years ago, I started to bring a sign that said “Stop Keystone Pipeline”. That made me think more about what “peace” means. Peace is not just the absence of war, but rather the existence of a just society. “No justice, no peace.” I put together a multi-media presentation about Peacebuilding as I thought about these ideas. The environmental injustice represented by the fossil fuel industry and Keystone pipeline was not peaceful, and my fellow vigil members eventually became comfortable with this addition (they had to think about it, too).
When President Obama rejected the pipeline, that presented opportunities for updated messages:
Then there was the consideration of the Iran deal:
Lately, as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I’ve moved on to another subject, Black Lives Matter, which represents another area of injustice and no peace.
And most recently, I participated in a sign making evening at the White Pine Wilderness Academy, where a group of us made signs for our demonstration in downtown Indianapolis to support #NoDAPL , the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance.
Signs are an important tool in being in the public square, and present opportunities for building community.