Monday, April 10, 2006

He Ain't Heavy

A couple of things happened this weekend that started me thinking--always a dangerous proposition.

My phone rang later than usual Saturday night. When I picked it up, the youngest of my three brothers was on the line. Without preliminaries, he said, "I'm on deadline. What city is 'Romeo and Juliet' set in?"

I answered, "Verona," and he hung up.

I should probably explain that my youngest brother is a newspaper columnist. He was obviously facing a deadline. Hitting one key on his cell phone to ask me the question was faster than hitting multiple keys on his laptop to ask Google that same question. He was in a hurry and knew I would know the answer.

On Sunday, I called my middle brother, a computer programmer. I explained to him that I wanted a tape of the National Geographic cable show on the Gospel of Judas airing that night. As we talked, he popped a videotape into his VCR and programmed the television to record the show.

There were half a dozen people I could have asked to copy that show for me, but I knew I could trust my brother to do it and get the tape to me.

My birthday was this week, and a friend and I celebrated it on Sunday. We met at church, went to brunch and then visited the Dallas Arboretum, where the spring flowers are in bloom. This time of year, you can usually find me at the Arboretum.

On our way through downtown Dallas from Ferre, which styles itself as "an urban Tuscan restaurant" (???), to the Arboretum, we were nearly trapped by a sea of vehicles. "What on earth?" I said. Dallas' downtown is not generally a place where you encounter traffic jams on weekends.

"It's the Immigration march," my friend said, executing a quick turn that brought us up a ramp and away from the ocean of cars.

Once we were above downtown, we could see just how large the crowd was. Thousands of mostly Hispanics (but not all), dressed in mostly white (but not all) and carrying American flags were walking in the direction of the Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe (the Cathedral Shrine of Guadalupe) on Ross Avenue. It took a minute for me to realize that they were chanting, "USA, USA, USA."

The news put the crowd at between 350,000 and 500,000 people--the largest protest in Dallas' history. I believe it. I had never before seen such a mass of humanity marching in peaceful, orderly fashion. The news said that, despite its size, there was no violence in the crowd. There were only two arrests made by the DPD.

Watching the broadcast last night, my first thought was, "They're supporting their brothers."

Sometimes the services we render our brothers are small, mundane tasks. Other times, we globalize both the service and whom we recognize as our brothers.

In the same way J had called me on Saturday, and I had called P on Sunday, those thousands of law-abiding demonstrators were responding to calls of need from their brothers and sisters.

No matter what your position is on the immigration question, you could not help but be moved/impressed/awed by seeing half a million people turning out on a beautiful spring afternoon to make their voices heard. It's a sight I will never forget.

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