“Silent Protest Against Hateful Thoughts”

I spent a few days in California during the holidays. On a day trip from San Diego to Los Angeles, I stopped at Venice Beach. The sun was just setting over the water, but the strip was still crawling with pedestrians.

The strip at Venice Beach is lined with storefronts and hawkers pitching their paintings, jewellery and other wares. There’s a definite hippie vibe in this place. In one of the shops a doctor administers marijuana to patients, providing on-the-spot assessments. A woman stands outside the shop, calling at passers-by to “Come see the doctor.”

The most striking thing I noticed at Venice Beach, though, was a man with long dreadlocks wearing a cardboard sign on his chest. The sign read, “Silent protest against hateful thoughts.” The man was just meandering through the crowd, smiling at everyone.

I found this man’s tactic interesting. He wasn’t forcing his issue. He wasn’t being pushy at all. It was an original way of making a point, and maybe that’s why I found it so memorable. Or, perhaps it was the fact that someone would think to call attention to hateful thoughts that struck me. Either way, the image of this man and his cardboard sign is branded in my mind. Who knew a silent protest could have such an impact?