On the way to the YWCA, there is a house with a sign in the yard that reads, "DRIVE LIKE YOUR KIDS LIVE HERE." That sign annoyed me but I couldn't quite figure out why.
My first thought was that it was bossy. It rankled that little part of me that can get defiant when told what to do. "You think you know me, sign? You think you can tell me what to do?"
Then, I thought maybe it was because the sign seemed so self-righteous and presumptuous. "How dare you assume that I am speeding? And you know what else, sign? People who speed don't necessarily hate children or want to treat them like bowling pins!"
You can see from my dark (and irrational) inner thoughts that I was irritated. Eventually, I got used to the sign, would give it a passing glance, and then proceed on my way without much thought.
Then, soon after the election when I was feeling particularly disheartened, I went to the Y to run in an attempt to return to my routine and establish a new normal. I laced up my shoes, put in my earbuds, and circled the track. At first, I was lost in my head and the music but then I started looking around, noticing the people around me. We were men and women, young and old, diverse in color and culture, walking and running on a track on a cold November day in the middle of a divided country.
South High School sits on a corner diagonally from the Y and the school uses the facility for gym classes. That day, I looked down into the open gym and there was a class going on - a group of high school girls playing soccer. Latinx, black, and white students ran towards the goal while the goalkeeper, a girl in a hijab, batted and kicked the balls away and I watched them as I ran. This is my neighborhood and my city and my experience of living in a diverse and complex world and, in that moment, my sadness, fear, and rage at the outcome of the election overwhelmed me once again and I cried while I ran around and around, listening as their laughter mixed with the screech of their tennis shoes on the polished hardwood floors.
And driving home that day, I realized why I really hated the sign in that yard. Telling people to drive like their kids live there appeals to a selfishness that divides us, to that part of us that cares only about our own families. It is our cultural cynicism manifested in bright colors and a bold font. I want better for us than that. I want us all to care about climate change and gun violence, about poverty and access to health care, about racial justice and immigration and equality for the LGBT community because our fates are intertwined.
Who among us would stand in the Y and watch that diverse group of girls playing soccer and not want the best for them? It's time to stop appealing to the worst in us and appealing to the best instead. It's time we all starting driving, voting, and living like every single person matters whether we know them or not. Until we do, we're all going down together.