Petition for Peace by Professor Maureen Johnson: And the World will be a Better Place . . .

#CalExit; #Secession; #Love. For months prior to our launching of this website, I scoured social media to try to find a glimmer of hope in the dueling barrage of attacks between conservatives and progressives. Although Trump may not have intended it, bigots were emboldened. For every action, there is an equal and powerful reaction.  One of the most memorable stories took place on a subway in New York.   

Just after the inauguration, it was widely reported that the interior of a subway train in New York had been covered with anti-Semitic symbols and slurs.  It was so pervasive that passengers couldn’t help but react. “Hand-sanitizer gets rid of Sharpie pens,” shouted one passenger. Others grabbed tissues from backpacks and purses. Together, they spontaneously scrubbed away the hateful words and images.

Numerous media outlets covered this event and naturally shone the spotlight on the “A” story: upstanders doing the right thing. Yet there also was a “B” story.  Imagine how it must have felt to be a Jewish passenger on that subway train and see total strangers join together to wipe away those hurtful anti-Semitic slurs.

When I first heard the subway story, I also imagined what it might feel like to an African-American at a football game where fans universally raise their fists in solidarity to Colin Kaepernick’s call to support Black Lives Matter. Or to be a Muslim detained at an airport looking into the eyes of a volunteer attorney offering assistance just because it’s the right thing to do. I also instantly remembered what it felt like to be a gay woman hearing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – the quintessential Republican he-man  – say that gays and lesbians should be afforded the fundamental right to marry.

Put simply, the kindness that a member of a minority group feels when someone else stands up for them is immeasurable. It heals. And we are all uniquely situated to give that gift to each other.

Another universal gift that can bring us together is music. As I was writing this petition, I kept hearing a song – “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” – that is as timely today as when originally recorded.  One stanza extols:

           Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand

           Put a little love in your heart . . .

           And the world will be a better place

           And the wo-rld will be a better place, for you and me

           You just wait and see . . .

#EQ4ALL@LLS is about love. Let’s unite. Let’s heal. And let’s have each other’s back. That extends not just to traditional minorities, but also to coal miners in Pennsylvania and displaced factory workers in Alabama. If you’re committed to equality for all, we’re committed to helping you. That’s what our forefathers envisioned in that drafty little hall in Philadelphia. We need to co-exist and we can do that if we just listen to each other and be true to our ideals. EQ4ALL!

Editor’s Note: “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” was recorded by Jackie Deshannon in 1969.  It was written by Ms. Deshannon, along with her brother, Randy Myers, and Jimmy Holiday. Al Green and Anne Lennox recorded a version for the 1988 film “Scrooged.”  Ms. Deshannon also is known for her signature hit: “What the World Needs Now is Love.”