Whatever You Do

signs

In Seattle

people obey the “don’t walk” light at the street corner

even if no cars are coming.

Yes, they just stand there!

 

It looks bizarre and surreal to see them

standing there

obeying without thinking,

but how many signs do we all obey

without even noticing?

 

Signs,

symbols,

words,

flags,

facial expressions,

emotions,

thoughts.

 

Signs only have power over you

if you don’t reflect on them.

Reflect on them and

take your power back.

 

Maybe...

wearing that cross means

he’s an ally to the poor and oppressed,

or

maybe he’s just exploiting that symbol

so he can exploit you.

 

Don’t trust a sign.

Meet the substance.

 

Maybe that flag stands for freedom

or

maybe genocide, slavery, and imperialism

or

maybe all of these and more.

 

Maybe it’s not so simple.

 

You see, a sign is a very simple thing

but significance is

precisely

the opposite of simple.

 

Maybe that look means

the person doesn’t like you

but

maybe they like you a lot

and it makes them nervous

or

maybe you’re irrelevant

and they’ve had a hard day

or

a lifetime of trauma.

 

All day we react, unaware:

“He looks trustworthy.”

“He looks dangerous.”

“I should…”

“I’m so…”

“I can’t…”

“I’ll just…”

 

Why did you think that?

What was your sign?

What did you assume?

 

How many signs do we obey

without even noticing?

 

(And how many useful signs do we ignore without noticing,

signs that could help us if we were more observant?)

 

Signs only have power if

you don’t reflect on them.

Notice them,

in the street and in your mind,

and reflect on them.

Take your power back.

 

Next time you see the “don’t walk” light

and no cars are coming

you can just stand there

or you could cross

or you could roll around in the street

or fall to your knees and sob.

 

Whatever you do,

first, wake up.

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