Songs, demonstrations can unite island

It’s more important than ever to uphold what is the best and highest in us.

  • Wednesday, December 11, 2019 11:39am
  • Opinion

Three years ago, this coming Dec. 18, 100 islanders came together as one to march arm-in-arm for the love of community.

Just weeks after a profoundly divisive presidential election, feelings of shock, dismay and uncertainty were fresh in the hearts and minds of many islanders. At such times, it is vital that a community reorient itself around a renewed sense of hope in humanity and faith in the future.

So, it was that on a cold, wintry Sunday morning, a week before Christmas, that islanders far and wide were invited to come and march and sing together as one. As one of the organizers, I vividly recall standing outside Vashon Theatre with a handful of early arrivals. A sound truck and videographer were on hand to capture the moment for posterity as a music video.

The 8:30 a.m. starting time came and went and our little band was discussing how to “march big” when I happened to look south beyond the barricades and saw that the highway was one long uninterrupted line of headlights. If you’ve ever seen the closing moments of the film “Field of Dreams,” you’ll have an inkling of how the words “build it and they will come” suddenly resonated with undeniable reality.

It was an exhilarating moment, indeed. And the exhilaration only grew as 100 islanders in parkas, caps and mittens joined hands in concentric circles, the music queued, the camera started and the march began.

The idea was to march toward Bank Road and gather fresh marchers along the way. The music played from loudspeakers on a pickup and the videographer shot footage from a camera mounted on a bicycle. The march was free and loose — adults, children, dogs — and the resulting video is a marvel of joy and spontaneity. The video can be viewed by searching “Into The Infinite Voice of Vashon.”

It is true that the most important things in life are invisible. Love. Faith. Hope. Dignity. Communities are made up of roads, businesses, churches, homes — all tangible things that can be seen and touched. But without the intangible forces of love, neighborliness, caring, acceptance, courtesy, mutual respect, honesty and forthrightness, then even the most materially successful community will be empty of social purpose and human meaning.

Our island’s reputation for freedom and inclusiveness runs deep. Our desire for a community teeming with humane purpose and mutual understanding is widely felt. Our island is only as worthy and inspiring as the ideals that animate it. The island is us. Our destiny is in our hands every minute of every day. What goes on 3,000 miles away is powerful and affects us without a doubt, but how we respond is equally powerful and is as close as our loving hearts choose to make it.

We are once again into a divisive presidential election and it’s more important than ever to recommit ourselves to framing our expectations in accordance with what is the best and highest in us.

At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 18, at Camp Colvos, islanders are again invited to celebrate what is the best and highest in us. The original music video will be played as will a new song, “Island Deep, Island Wide.” Come join us and link arms for the love of community.

Ike Harmon is a longtime islander and musician.

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