the sound of solidarity


    I heard two things today at church I want to pass along.

    After our ten o’clock service, Bob, who is a fellow NPR listener, asked me if I had heard this week’s SoundClips: Audio Experiences on All Things Considered. They have asked people to send in audio clips of meaningful or unusual sounds and then they do a short piece on what the sound is and what it means. This week’s feature was the sound of glass Communion cups being put in the cup holders after Communion at the Mayflower Congregational Church UCC in Oklahoma City. Vicky Werneke, who sent in the sound clip, said her pastor likes to refer to the sound as “the clicking sound of solidarity.”

    Tonight at Senior High Fellowship, Tom, who is a fellow lover of odd movies, brought The Brave Little Toaster for us to watch together. Last week I mentioned we would do a movie night and Tom jumped at the chance to bring his favorite movie. I had never heard of it before I heard him talk about it. I don’t know why that’s the case because it is a wonderful piece of work. The story follows five appliances – a desk lamp called, Lampy, a small electric blanket called Blanky, a vacuum cleaner called Kirby, an old-fashioned radio who is nameless, and the Toaster (who is affectionately known as “Slot Head”). They live in a cabin that was the summer home for a child whom they love and think of as master. He hasn’t been back in a long time, so they decide to go to the city and find him. At some point in the story, each of the group has to do something sacrificial to help the others and to keep them going on their journey. Though the toaster’s bravery gets him the marquis billing, everyone in the group made an essential contribution in one way or another. They, too, understood the sound of solidarity.

    I heard it in the way Bob and Tom brought something to me they knew would help us connect. What wonderful news it is when someone says, “I heard something the other day and it made me think of you.” Sometimes solidarity clicks as the cup hits the holder. Sometimes it sings in a song that carries a memory in its melody. Sometimes it whispers in a word of encouragement or connection. Sometimes it travels silently in a touch or an act of hopeful sacrifice. However it comes, it’s a great word.

    I don’t hear the word without thinking of Lech Walesa and the Solidarity Worker’s Union in Poland, whose uprising in the summer of 1980 led to the overthrow of the Communist government there and contributed to the dissolution of Soviet control in Eastern Europe. They stood together and changed the world. I thought of them this week as crowds have begun to gather in Hungary to demand a more honest government. Walesa said, “The thing that lies at the foundation of positive change, the way I see it, is service to a fellow human being.” He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.

    Most of the noise in our world these days is divisive: we are labeled Red or Blue, black or white, right or left, right or wrong, us or them. War has become our primary metaphor for living. But listen – listen to the strain of hope underneath the cacophony of chaos. You can hear it in the clink of a cup or the word of a friend, in the bold marching of an earnest throng and the small gathering of people coming together to create a memory. It infuses life in everything from Communion cups to small appliances, youth groups to labor movements.

    The sound of solidarity keeps on clicking.



    1. Yeah, the Brave Toaster is a fabulous piece of work. It’s been around awhile. We had a copy of the video about 10 years ago and watched it over and over with our friends. And “Goodnight slothead” was probably our favorite line.

      As I understand it, the movie was made by whoever made it. Then Disney bought the rights to it and claims it as their own. I think, anyway. It’s been awhile since I read anything about it.

    2. Right. The guys who ended up at Pixar doing Toy Story and the like started out with the Toaster. One of the articles I read even mentioned things in Toy Story that pay homage to their work in this movie. Disney bought the rights later on. Toaster acutally first premiered at Sundance.

      Peade, Milton

    3. I was a member at Mayflower when I lived in Oklahoma City and I hope you’ll listen online to one of Dr. Robin Meyer’s sermons. I think he is your kind of pastor.

    4. Excellent post.

      We watched ‘Brave Little Toaster’ when my kids were much smaller; for some reason, it seemed to freak them out a bit. Talking appliances, I guess. We’ll have to watch it again.

    5. Love this post. You made me think of a poem by Czeslaw Milosz that is on the memorial to the shipyard workers and the solidarity movement in Poland.

      Of course, I can’t remember a durn thing about it. But I liked it!!

    6. Rach —

      You sent me searching and I found this Milosz inscription that is on the monument to the fallen shipyard workers in Gdansk:

      “You who have harmed simple man, mocking him with your laughter, you kill him, someone else will be born, and your deeds and words will be written down.”


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