Signs of the Times

HONK! HONK!

My ears saw it before my eyes did.

The words of Martin Luther King were blaring through an old-time boom box on Rosa Park’s Corner in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The city was still covered with band-aids from last weekend’s protest.
But that day, King’s speech was punctuated with HONK HONKS.
Why?
A young man was holding a sign:
HONK FOR BLM!

I stood next to him while waiting to cross the street, listening to the chorus of different horns.

It was beautiful, well, except…

One car didn’t honk.

It was a rusty Chevy, driven by a man even rustier, wearing a plaid shirt and scowl.

Instead of honking, he held up a finger –and not a good one.

What just happened? Did an old man just flip off a protester of peace?

I did a U-turn in my sandals, walked back to the protestor, who was now sitting next to Rosa Parks with his friend.

“Excuse me,” I started, “ I’m not in a car, but HONK HONK! Black lives matter and that old man flipping you the bird was awful!”

The kid just shook his head, as if this rude behavior was something he learned to put up with, like someone with eleven items in the ten-items-or-less lane.

“That’s nothing,” another protester added. I was coal rolled twice today.”


Rolling coal is when a car engine has been illegally customized to blow plumes of sooty exhaust. So, the car was literally making a statement, I don’t want you to breathe, either.

What has this world come to?

That isn’t the question.

The question is, why hasn’t the world come to anything yet?

Just like the ATM machine on the corner that was shattered with a crowbar, we are broke.

Our hearts are as empty as pockets when it comes to grace, as all of our change when to the offering plate. Or, as another trail blazer put it,

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.

Jonathan Swift

But something cool came out of this cruel. Artists from around the Midwest pooled together to create murals on plywood with powerful messages.

Bad seems to bring out the good. It’s the silver lining on the plumes of hate.

Hopefully, George Floyd will not be forgotten in a few weeks when people go back thumping their Bibles, caring more about the extra ketchup in a supersized meal than the single mother that handed it to them.

As pretty as these murals are, I hope they are the last I’ll ever see. Rosa, Maya, Martin and Emmett have been painting murals with tears for years.

It’s not about the noise we make at protests. It’s about how we live our every every day after.

Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”

― Maya Angelou

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