You've likely seen the photo floating around your newsfeed, depicting a bearded man, in plaid flannel and a cowboy hat, holding a sign outside of a mosque in Irving, Texas. The sign reads, "You belong. Stay strong. Be blessed. We are one America."
The photo, originally posted late last week, has garnered hundreds of thousands of reactions and been shared tens of thousands of times on both Twitter and Facebook in the past few days.
Last night, the man in the photo, Justin Normand, shared a post of his own, identifying himself as a Presbyterian and reflecting on what motivated him to make the show of support to his Muslim neighbors.
This was about binding up the wounded. About showing compassion and empathy for the hurting and fearful among us. Or, in some Christian traditions, this was about washing my brother’s feet.
...My own religious tradition ascribes these words to my deity:
I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.
It is also in this vein that the words on the Statue of Liberty embrace, with eagerness and mercy, all who come to join us:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
These words bespeak the America we all remember, know, love, and are still called upon to be. Especially now.
Normand stood outside the mosque for several hours, his message of support and solidarity offering a striking counter to the more than 800 incidents of harrassment and hate crimes that have reportedly occured since Election Day.
You can read his entire post here.