This article appeared in the July 24, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Sanctuary neighborhood: Lawless compassion?

Courtney Pedroza/The Tennessean/AP
Media and concerned citizens gather outside a Nashville, Tenn., home, where an immigration agent gave up trying to arrest a Tennessee man who, aided by neighbors, refused to leave his vehicle for four hours. WTVF-TV reports, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement vehicle blocked the unnamed man's van in his driveway in Nashville and attempted to take him into custody Monday, but he refused to get out on July 22, 2019. As he sat in the van with his son, neighbors decided to help.

In today’s edition, we’ve selected five stories to look at political perceptions (Mueller testimony), innovation (on the farm), busting stereotypes (one-child families), hope (a Liberian in Montana), and nurturing (purple martins).

But first, let’s examine people power in Nashville, Tennessee. 

When U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrived Monday morning in a Nashville suburb, they met passive resistance. A handful of residents cheered and gave food and water to a neighbor and his 12-year-old son, who refused to leave their van. After a four-hour peaceful standoff, the ICE agents left. 

You’ve heard of sanctuary cities? This might be the first sanctuary neighborhood. 

However you may feel about unauthorized immigrants, what happened in that Nashville subdivision fits into a larger pattern of nonviolent people power challenging perceived injustice. You can see it in the streets of Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Moldova, Algeria, and Sudan. 

Concurrent with a global rise in authoritarian governments is the rise of individuals feeling empowered to address societal wrongs. At no other time in human history has it been so easy to organize, thanks to the ubiquity of cellphones and social media. 

We might view the often leaderless protest as another form of populism. We might see it as a manifestation of direct democracy and the exercise of free speech. We might see it as a collapse of the rule of law and order, too. 

Or, in the case of Nashville, we might see it as an expression of basic compassion and loyalty. “We stuck together like neighbors are supposed to do,” Felishadae Young told WZTV, the Fox TV station in Nashville.

This article appeared in the July 24, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 07/24 edition
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