One Saturday last month we walked down Koenigstrasse – King Street – in Stuttgart, Germany. Koenigstrasse is Stuttgart’s Michigan Avenue or Champs-Élysées of shopping and people watching. We were reliving memories of years gone by, years when we had only one baby. Now we have three children and they each needed a fresh German pretzel while browsing the wares at Butlers, one of my favorite stores. We paused to watch the ever-present Saturday summer street performers and kept a sharp eye out for women with Euro purple red hair. This was very special family time. It was a dream realized.
The crowd in the castle square brought me back to reality, a reality I’m reminded of every day at home when I listen to the news while I prepare dinner. News of war, rumors of war and more news about religious persecution. The demonstrators were vocal but peaceful. Riot police stood at the ready, but there was not a riot. People wore black T-shirts with the Arabic “N” emblazoned in gold across the front. These were refugees and immigrants, families with children, from predominantly Muslim countries carrying red crosses, demanding intervention from the West on behalf of Christians being persecuted. Unlike myself, these people probably knew casualties of war. Unlike myself, many of these people would not be going home soon – perhaps not ever.
This area of downtown Stuttgart is the approved place for demonstrations – Green Peace, Free Tibet, end the war in Iraq. . . We’ve seen them all. But this one was different. I seen the “N” as people’s profile photo on Facebook. I see it in the news. But these people were living solidarity by showing up in a public place with their families, singing songs, making speeches and urging intervention on the part of the government. It was encouraging to see people exercising their right to gather and demonstrate when, where I come from, people, including myself, mostly just post Facebook status updates on how horrible the situation is.