Consistency And Persistence
The guy you see in the photo is Robert. He’s retired and from noon-1pm every Thursday for the past 8 years he has stood in front of the Federal Building in San Francisco at the corner of Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street in what he calls a Peace Vigil against the wars that United States are currently involved in. The Peace Vigil actually started right after the attacks on 9/11, so there were others who had been standing there every week even longer than he has. When I saw Robert standing on the corner holding his sign I felt like I had to go talk to him about what he was up to. He was a super nice guy and we ended up chatting for about ten minutes or so while he waved his sign around in the air at both locals and tourists who would roll by on double-decker sightseeing buses.
When I asked him whether or not he felt like his weekly protest was working or not, he said something that I thought was interesting. “You know, there is still a lot of war going on so I’m not sure how much of an effect we’ve had on all that, but personally it helps me feel better knowing that I’m actually out here doing something about it. No matter what, I know that I’m going to be out here every Thursday (he even puts it on his calendar) and making the effort to do something about an issue I care about is important to me. It’s important to me and all of these other people who are out here together.” At the time, there were probably another twenty-five to thirty other people who were also holding signs and letting San Francisco know how they feel about the wars that the United States in currently in.
Here’s how one of the protesters describes why all of the different types of people stand out there in front of the Federal Building on every Thursday:
As some of us have done every week since 2001, we stand here in witness to another way forward: a way of listening, mutual respect and understanding, of reflection, repentance and reconciliation. As people of many organized faiths and none, and as people of the United States, we take this time to focus on our own responsibility and on what we can do to address our complicity in the violent and soul-denying policies our government pursues at home and throughout the world. For some of us it is an opportunity to pray, to examine our lives for the seeds of war and to begin the work of removing them…
Just like Robert said, who knows how much of an impact they’ve had directly on the people who are making decisions in the Federal Building they stand in front of every week. What they’re doing is more of a statement to the people of San Francisco who have seen them every Thursday for the past 10 years over and over again. It shows people that they care about what they’re protesting enough to stick around and to continue to show up. They’re not doing a one-time flash mob and never doing anything about it again. These people care strongly about what they’re protesting and the persistence and consistency that they’ve displayed over the years proves it. I can definitely respect that.
Just being there, showing up, being consistent and persistent — it sounds simple, but it’s really hard to follow-through with. Robert had made it a priority and that’s the only reason it’s worked. I know I need to make a few things more of a priority in my life if I want them to be consistent, what about you?