Building a Movement | Sojourners

Building a Movement

Movements don't fall from the sky—they're built by people.

Have you ever been to a college campus at 8 a.m.? It looks like a ghost town. And usually an invitation to come out at that hour is synonymous with pressing the snooze button. So what motivated a thousand people to stand together outside Stanford University’s Taube Hillel House that early on a Friday morning?

Westboro Baptist Church—an extremist group known for spouting hate speech—had posted on its Web site plans to march in front of Hillel House at Stanford. Making good on their promise that January morning, six members of the church stood holding signs with anti-Semitic and anti-gay slogans. They shouted hateful jeers at students and passers-by.
But a few feet away stood nearly 1,000 members of the Stanford community—students, faculty, and staff from more than 20 religious and cultural clubs on campus. They came together to celebrate their diversity in the face of those who would try to tear them apart. The power of the gathering wasn’t lost on anyone—partway through the event, a young man stumbled out of a nearby dorm, awakened by the noise of the group. A few minutes later, he re-emerged, playing a solo of “Amazing Grace” on his bagpipes.
However good the cause, however ugly the provocation, a thousand people don’t naturally rise from their beds to promote a positive value. Somebody has to rouse them. Somebody has to be the alarm clock.

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Sojourners Magazine May 2010
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