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"Pace is all. Rhythm is master. Consistency is your friend."

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Sanctuary

Some time in the early 1980's El Salvador was in the midst of a civil war. People were fleeing the death squads for safety and the chance at a better life in the United States. Our Unitarian Universalist congregation symbolically provided sanctuary to a family. While the family didn't technically live in the church itself, our congregation sponsored them.

I'm not sure how it all worked out but I recall that the family had very few options to travel about and anyone aiding them could risk arrest. One afternoon my dad drove the father to a medical appointment.

This caused much concern in my little brother. He was of the age where police were always right and people shouldn't break laws. He was upset that my dad would risk making the police angry.

While I didn't fully understand the dynamics I knew this man needed medical care. I was also proud that my dad was taking a risk to help someone.

What I also didn't understand was how this deed ran counter to my dad's upbringing. He was born on a dairy farm in Virginia in 1940. He grew up in the segregationist south, where the white kids went to one school and the blacks to another (of course that happens today - while it was by law in the 1950's, it is through economics today). He earned his undergraduate degree at a public university that did not formally admit women until 1972. It would be understandable if he carried the privilege of a white man.

And yet, he has always worked to make the world, both in his neighborhood and much farther away, a better place. He has been a town meeting member and active player in local politics for decades. He has been on the board for an elder housing organization, a domestic violence shelter and an organization that advocates for severely developmentally disabled adults. I wish I had a recording of him describing volunteering at a food bank for the residents of the Chinatown neighborhood. He talks about the pride of the elderly men and women who entered the church as they walked in to receive their food.

He had a heart attack last year the day before he was to lead two church services about the genocide in Darfur. He was very worried about how the services would go even though he was told he needed triple bypass heart surgery. So while he couldn't get himself discharged from the hospital - he promised to return -he spent the days in the hospital trying to get the nurses to read his pamphlets about Darfur. To this day he still wears his green Not on Our Watch bracelet.

I've gone on to a career in social justice - first through public policy to expand health care coverage and now working on economic justice.

My father is the reason why I think I can make a difference.

Because he drove a man to a doctor's appointment.


This post is part of a blog exchange. Thirty-eight year old Allison can be found proudly wearing a pink "daddy's little girl" shirt. She is the mother of three children- twin 6 1/2 year old boys and a three year old girl and works outside the home as an advocate for economic justice. She found the the quotes at Nancy's place Just Thinking inspiring. Today the thoughtful Nancy is over at Allison's place - Soccer Mom in Denial. You can find more exchanges at The Blog Exchange.

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13 Comments:

At 6/04/2007 08:44:00 PM, Blogger cathouse teri said...

Okay, I was wrong. It wasn't Nancy's story that was poignant, it was yours!

(Now I gotta figure out what hers is)

 
At 6/04/2007 09:22:00 PM, Blogger Jodi said...

Beautiful, beautiful post!

 
At 6/04/2007 11:35:00 PM, Anonymous chelle said...

awww Dad's are so amazing! Yours is no exception! How amazing how his actions shaped who you are.

 
At 6/05/2007 01:06:00 AM, Anonymous Jenn said...

I love how much you love your Dad.

It's amazing.

 
At 6/05/2007 01:29:00 AM, Blogger Jenn in Holland said...

Exceptional SMID. I love that your daddy had the impact on making you this person you are.
This is a wonderful tribute!

 
At 6/05/2007 06:21:00 AM, Blogger Gunfighter said...

Awesome.

 
At 6/05/2007 08:03:00 AM, Blogger Ambassador said...

I love your Dad. Even if I'd never met him and loved him before, I would now. Great Post, kiddo. I hope you he reads it too. Love, K.

 
At 6/05/2007 08:42:00 AM, Anonymous Mr. SMID said...

It is an honor to know and to have SMID's dad as a father-in-law. He is someone I look up to and try to emulate daily. Impossible task for sure! SMID is such an incredible woman in part because of who she has as a father.

 
At 6/05/2007 12:48:00 PM, Anonymous Laura Lohr said...

Your dad was a great man. I love your tribute. Great post!

 
At 6/05/2007 03:52:00 PM, Blogger Alex Elliot said...

Wow! He sounds like a fantastic man. What a great role model for you and your family No wonder your posts are always so caring and compassionate!

 
At 6/05/2007 07:45:00 PM, Blogger soccer mom in denial said...

Thanks Nancy for being such a wonderful hostess. I really appreciate you letting me take over for the day!

 
At 6/05/2007 08:51:00 PM, Blogger Flower Child said...

This is a great tribute to your dad. I told my dad I loved him so much I married his clone. Yes, this is true.

Did your dad get the book on Darfur that I sent? I didn't have to stand in line - but I would have for him!

 
At 6/05/2007 10:57:00 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Wow. Please thank your Dad for all that he's done. And thank you to you as well. The world is a better place because of people like your Dad.

 

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