Seniors promote peace and solidarity
A new sight in Tigard is senior citizens standing along Durham Road between 98th Avenue and Alderbrook Drive on Tuesday evenings holding signs promoting peace and denouncing racism and hatred.
There have been an astounding number of incidents fueled by hate, racism and vitriol in the country this year, but for many, the final straw was Charlottesville, Va., when on Aug. 12 a violent and deadly rally took place that included white supremacists and neo-Nazis clashing with counter-protesters.
Usually young people are marching through the streets, demanding change and fighting injustice, but some Summerfield residents were angered enough to decide to take action by holding signs, waving and attracting the attention of passing motorists.
Barbara Roth, who started the movement, explained, "Following recent events at Charlottesville, Va., I wanted to do something. To remain silent and hidden in my home was to condone those ugly demonstrations. I wanted to show there are good people who are against racism. There are people who want to stand up for the civil rights of all peoples."
She formed Candlelight Vigil for Democracy, which is unaffiliated with any organization, and called some of her Summerfield friends to join her.
"The first night, there were only three of us," she said. "Then passersby stopped to thank us, and four joined our vigil. The second evening, our group grew to 13. Our numbers continue to grow."
Roth believes that threats to American democracy and values are a real concern.
"We deplore racism and violence and stand united for compassion and justice for all," she said. "The good people of this country need to be visible and to spread love, not hate. I invite our neighbors to unite. Together, we can peacefully resolve the many issues that plague our society today."
Roth quoted George Santayana, who said, "Those who cannot remember the HYPERLINK "https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Past"past are condemned to repeat it," and added, "We seniors remember our history and want to protect our loved ones from the misery and despair of repeated mistakes."
With the vigils going on for several weeks now, Roth has amassed a group of dedicated patriots who come when they can and are joined every week by newcomers as the word spreads.
Two of the biggest supporters are Marty and Karen Zwerling, and Karen Zwerling told the Regal Courier, "Like Barbara Roth and many others, Marty and I just cannot stand by and watch our country deteriorate into a bastion of hate. Personally, I cannot in good conscience allow what happened in Charlottesville to become commonplace in our country.
"As a member of a Jewish family whose Polish ancestors did not survive the Holocaust, I must live by our mantra 'Never Again,' not only for the Jews but for every group who wants to live free from hate and tyranny," she added. "A beehive of hatred has been poked and allowed to infiltrate our beloved, coveted democracy, and we must stop its 'swarm' any way we can before what we have always stood for disappears. We must resist hate and bigotry in all its forms."
ONE HUMAN FAMILY.
Likewise, Sharon Rose explained, "We are coming to the forefront to advocate for peace and resisting racism. We support each other in the realization that we all are humans, with the same blood, coming from the same place. We care for each other and also for those who live with hateful feelings towards themselves and others they consider better than or less than themselves."
SUPPORT DACA DREAMERS.
Lorry Christian said that she is participating in the vigils because "I am distressed about the violence of human beings against human beings around the world, and especially in our country. We are all in this together. We are all sisters and brothers, regardless of the color of our skin, our religious beliefs or our ethnic history, our gender, who and how we choose to love, or how much money and financial resources we have or don't have."
Christian said one way to do this is to be visible and hold a light against the darkness and hate, to stand for peace, and to put herself in a physically vulnerable situation to do so.
"I want to remind people who are in public positions who were either elected or appointed to remember that they work for us - we pay their salaries and lavish expense accounts," Christian added. "They all have a responsibility to fairly represent everyone in this country, not just the ones who elected them."
Christian also is protesting against the deportation of people who have come to this country to work for a better life for themselves and their families, regardless of how they arrived here.
"Except for the indiginous people – Native Americans - all of us are here because our ancestors came to this country as refugees and or immigrants, legal or illegal," she said. "I protest against the vulgar disparity between pay for line-workers and company or organization executives. It's embarrassing. I am one, and I can't do everything, but this is one thing I can do."
Valerie Dales lives on Bull Mountain, but two friends in Summerfield told her about the vigils, and she decided to join.
"I think it' a great idea to do this," she said. "There is no KKK or violence or anything negative - we are about peace and love and unity for everyone."
When the group is standing along Durham Road, 99 percent of the passersby honk their horns in support or give them a thumbs up, with only a very few obviously not in favor of peace and love.
OPPOSE HATE/PROMOTE PEACE.
"We had a tennis ball thrown at us, and it came from a Prius, not even an old pickup," said Christine Powell-Moore, who is originally from England and a naturalized U.S. citizen. "Who wouldn't be for peace? Our group doesn't agree with what is going on in the U.S., and it's reassuring when people wave and toot their horns."
Rose estimated that one out of 300 drivers showed a negative reaction to their signs, adding, "People are too filled with hate and need to address these issues in our society."
While waving at drivers, Roth said that one evening, "a 9-year-old boy wanted to stop and say thank you. And a family from Ethiopia thanked us."
As she finished talking, a driver yelled out the window of his vehicle, "Stupid!"
DIVISION HURTS USA.
Michele Seligman said she has been very upset since Charlottesville and wanted to join the group when she heard about it.
"What is happening in our country?" she asked. "I am 100 percent against any kind of prejudice. Each day the world gets worse. It is really frightening. Everybody should get involved."
Rachel Hoffman came to the Aug. 5 vigil because she is in a writing group with Roth and wanted to participate. She carried a sign that read, "Defy hate," which apparently caused a driver to yell, "Stupid b---h!"
"What are we supposed to do – embrace hate?" she asked. "I'm here because I don't like feeling so angry about what is going on. I haven't done this sine Vietnam. And I'm proud of all these Summerfielders," to which Roth replied, "We are small, but we're mighty."
As another vehicle passed by, someone asked, "Was that a finger?" and Roth replied, "No, that was a thumbs up."
PEACE (HEART) SOLIDARITY.
Roth is encouraged to hear about similar groups holding their own vigils and added, "If people in King City want to do this, it's easy to start. We get lots of positive honking and thumbs up."