A few years ago a local tribe invited the community for a day outside of music, food and celebration. We really enjoyed the day, got to see people we know and had some good food-truck food.

About two-thirds of the way through the event the chairperson of the tribe went to the microphone to welcome people.

I speak in public all the time, so I notice it when people aren’t paying attention to a speaker. In this case, a lot of the crowd was just carrying on with their conversations and ignoring the chairperson. In fact, I would say that some people even talked louder as he began to speak. My perception was that people were trying to be subtly disrespectful of the chairperson, and therefore the tribe.

This did not surprise me. But I felt angry and sad about it.

I thought to myself, “What can I do?”

So I encouraged my family not only to listen but to stand up and face the chairperson. As we did this, I talked to them with a slightly louder voice than normal, “Hey you guys, the chairperson is talking – let’s listen.” I know that others around me heard this. I noticed that at least some people began to listen as well. As they listened, others took notice and some began to listen as well.

I also noticed that we were not the only ones to do this!

This is a small thing. But small things matter. Respect, kindness, and listening matter – practicing these is a form of allyship. It is also a part of how we build a more peaceful future together.

Photo by Eric Mok on UnSplash