Sometimes traveling is not about tickets and long flights. Sometimes a significant journey is unplanned and brief. On March 14, I came out of an adult education class at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida and saw a large circle of college students under the campus gazebo. Because I didn’t want to intrude, I stood and watched from about fifty feet away. I listened to the speakers talk about the loss of seventeen lives in Parkland, Florida and the need for people to reach out to each other with kindness. I moved into the circle and was handed a candle. As a flame went from one person to another, a young stranger shared the energy of the light with me. The group walked silently around the perimeter of the college, coming back full circle to the gazebo. A group of students sang a song with the line “Can you hear my voice this time?”.
The moment brought up feelings and memories. I had first come to St. Augustine in 1965 when I was 16 year old. I remember the impact the Slave Market in middle of the Old City had made on me. It was proof that the terrible things taught in my history classes really happened. It was not until decades later that I learned about the four teenagers who were arrested for sitting at the lunch counter at Woolworths in St. Augustine in 1964 as part of a Civil Rights protest. “Can you hear my voice this time?”
I remember the protests against the Viet Nam War and the voices raised since then concerning all sorts of causes. “We, The People” thankfully live in a country where we can speak out. As I walked silently with the students, I thought of the hope of all Americans for a good life. I am no longer a young student, I’ve seen a lot of history. Our voices have become louder and stronger with the advance of technology. Unfortunately, what has not kept pace is our ability to listen, understand, and find common ground. The circle goes round and round. “Can you hear my voice this time?”