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Posts Tagged ‘HOA’

Nearly two weeks have passed since ‘the call’ came in.  A neighbor, who I barely knew, felt the need to let me know that three men have been continuously taking turns driving past my house, stopping, staring, and staying for up to six minutes. My guess is that you may wondering why. . . I know we are. It appears they didn’t like the sign we had put in our window, but we don’t even know this for sure.

The call shattered any equilibrium that I was feeling. You see during my younger years, childhood violence was a norm which as an adult has left me navigating a very real deep-seeded fear of any kind of violence or rage. As much as I have tried, that fear often sits just below the surface ready to reappear when given a cause. On most occasions, I am able to quickly regain my footing when I encounter a ‘blip’ – not this time.

Having my house ‘watched’ has traumatized me and left me feeling some very intense fear and sometimes enormous anger towards the perpetrators and at those that feel the need to blame the victim.  I am also completely despondent that my sons and I are walking in the world differently than we did a few weeks ago.

In truth, the dynamics of the relationship probably originated with this story: https://lightwavejourney.wordpress.com/2016/11/05/yard-sign-troubles/

~ ~ ~

As activists, it was only natural for us to call our congressmen, write some letters, donate money, rally, and put up a sign. So after one of the airport rallies, following our new president’s immigration ban, my son put a ‘Refugees Welcome’ in our front window. Let’s just say three of our conservative neighbors reacted poorly, really poorly.

aryeh-holding-refugees-welcom

My son, Aryeh, holding up the ‘Refugees Welcome’ sign at the first Airport Rally following the Immigration Ban on January 28, 2017

What has stunned me most about what happened was not the neighbors that felt the need to instill fear, but ‘my friends’ and acquaintances that believe that we caused the situation and that we should have simply not displayed our views.

Chutzpah!!!! How dare someone tell me that in some way, shape, or form I am asking for it. Bullshit!

Each of us have a choice in how we walk in the world. Some of us choose to live consciously and to wear our hearts on our sleeves. That’s called transparency or authenticity.  For me, there is no option.

Violence, instilling fear, and bullying is never OK! NEVER! And I have a right to choose how I walk in the world without the fear of retribution for going against someone’s belief. Maybe things have changed since Trump took office, but the United States I treasure allows for each of us to have our own views and to express them too. Sometimes we have to navigate different guidelines, boundaries, or laws – that’s fine. AND sometimes, we have to stand by our principles and buck the system. I am OK with that too.

While  we later found out the ‘Welcome Refugee’ sign is not acceptable within our HOA (Homeowners Association), we didn’t know it when the sign first went into the window. Yes we still believe that refugees should be welcomed, we didn’t put the sign up to cause problems. The sign went up because we wanted to share our passion and maybe even ignite a others into action for refugees. And the sign went down when we realized we were not following the HOA bylaws. If the men were really representing our HOA, they could have followed procedures to inform us that were braking the rules. But that contact wasn’t what happened; stalking did.

How dare these men bully us by stalking our home.

As I said, the sign is down. And after about ten days, it appears the stalking may have ceased.  Fear now guides our evening and nighttime walks, but we are pushing through and starting to return to feel calmer.  And we still have a few people in our lives that probably fear for our safety and wish we’d simply live a little more silently.

Being silent when bigotry and hatred are guiding the political climate will lead to more of the same. So. . .even if I feel fear, I will join others who are trying to make our world a better place.

#NoBanNoWall #RESIST

Update: Since originally working on this blog, I have started to heal. I am still tired to the core, but I am starting to sleep better and believe that everything is moving in the right direction. Healing takes time, but my spirit is better than it was due to my fabulous landlord and some very thoughtful neighbors. 

Whatever fear I felt or may still feel is negligible compared to refugees and those that love them. #RefugeesWelcomeHere

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ET struck again.

This morning, we woke up to find our Clinton-Kaine sign vandalized. We would love to have been surprised, but somehow we have come to expect that one neighbor has a vendetta of his making and perhaps another house a few doors down is fueling what one of my friends refers to as ‘deplorable’ behavior.

The cycle of vandalism began in mid-September when my sons and I put up a Black Lives Matter sign.  We were and still am proud of the movement.  Like all movements, it isn’t perfect, but it does do some incredibly holy work by trying to end the marginalization of black people (as well as others).

Unfortunately, our views and/or our BLM sign has incited a neighbor who we refer to as ET. Here is the outline of what has been happening since we decided to put up our sign from September – present:

  • Mid-September – First Black Lives Matter Sign goes up.day-1-blm-sign-goes-up-yay
  • Thursday, September 22 – ET (who we now know as a neighbor) confronted me very rudely outside my garage. He was waiting there at 7:15 AM when I left the house to go to work. At that time, I kept my cool and told him that we would be happy to remove the sign if he showed me the HOA rules. He didn’t. We believe based on interactions that he perpetuated what happened below.  (Btw, Aryeh has been with me during nearly each and every interaction.)
  • Saturday, September 24 – Black Lives Matter Sign pulled out of ground and left on lawn.
  • Sunday, September 25 Black Lives Matter Sign was vandalized to say Black Lies Matter. We then repainted the ‘v’ to return the sign to the original form.
  • Monday, September 26 – Black Lives Matter Sign was stolen
  • Thursday, September 29 – We created and put up a sign that said “God Sees Souls Not Skin” (Thanks for this sign idea Lea!)god-sees-souls-september-30
  • Friday, September 30 – Lakeside Estates Townhouse Community’s HOA gave us 30 days to remove our signs unless they are for a candidate.
  • Friday, October 7 – second BLM sign goes up
  • Saturday, October 8
    • Early AM – Found poop rubbed on sign and toilet paper in yard,
    • Yelled at by ET and others in the alley behind our house. When confronted ET admitted that of course he did it because he didn’t want “that shit” in the neighborhood. (ET seems to hang out a lot with the folks who live a few doors down from our house. There was a group of men hanging out in the garage joining in the rudeness. I did not pay attention to them because ET was in my face and/or louder; he was also outside the garage at the time.)
    • Police called – First time
    • And I decided that I would no longer confront ET on any level.
    • In the afternoon, we found chewing tobacco spit on garage door
    • Police called and came a second time.
    • We then put up a camera
  • Monday, October 17-
    • Second Black Lives Matter sign stolen while my son was walking our dog in the evening.
    • Later that evening, we put up our third and last BLM sign with a message to ET saying, “Grow Up, Have you noticed that we haven’t stolen your Trump Sign” on the back.writing-my-note-to-et
  • Tuesday, October 25 – Black Lives Matter sign taken down to comply with HOA deadline to remove our BLM sign; the sign was replaced with Hillary Clinton for President Sign.
  • Saturday, November 5- Pumpkin thrown at sign and all over yard.

While all of this has been troubling, I have found myself doing some serious soul searching, rethinking how I walk in the world.  How should I respond to external conflict.  Let’s face it, when you consciously interact with the world around you, you notice and experience life intensely.  So now I am trying to take more time to quiet my mind before I speak, breath a little more deeply and into my emotions, and allow for the quiet.

Initially, I was angry and fit to be tied, later I became a little scared. Anyone that has the ability to toss shit at my sign must be capable of doing so much worse. And then lastly, my conviction became fierce. I was not going to let my views or my values be silenced. But that didn’t mean I had to respond with the venom espoused by ET.

At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 25, 2016, Michelle Obama said the words that I believe may have quite literally changed how I relate to the world as both an activist and more importantly a human being. She said, “When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, you go high.

Within moments of allowing myself to get swept up by anger after ET admitted to throwing feces at our second sign, I took a deep breath and allowed Michelle Obama’s words to sink deep into my soul. “when they go low, you go high.”

Onward!
Chava

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