I have never thought it was a good idea to put up a political sign in our front yard. After all, this is not just a place of residence, it is a business, namely a piano studio. And Matt works for a church, which does give one pause if one is to take seriously the whole separation of church and state thing. Besides, both of us are Midwesterners. Translation: we are conflict avoiders.

But then 2016 happened.

My number one take-away from the 2016 election (besides experiencing boatloads of disbelief and fear) was that most of us we have been polite and quiet too long. That maybe, just maybe, because we have never expressed our views out loud, or certainly not in the company of others who we suspect might not share these views, that maybe there might have been folks we knew who voted differently, but who might have assumed we voted like them and shared their convictions because of our silence (Transitive property gone bad: I like Amy and Matt. Therefore they must have voted like me.). And maybe, just maybe, if collectively we had not all been so quiet, one or two folks out there—who might have been confused or ill-informed or just plain lazy about educating themselves on the issues—might have stopped and thought, “Huh, my good friend [Marvin, Leah, David….] supports X. I like [Marvin, Leah, David…] They are doing good work in the world and seem to think deeply about things. Hmm…”

Maybe. Just maybe.

This was my thinking when one day in 2017, I got a phone call from a parent in my studio. Theresa’s kids were no longer taking piano, but we had remained friends and I always loved hearing from her. Theresa is one of those very active and politically engaged people, the kind of person that I, on more than one occasion, have called before a local or a mid-term election and said, “OK, tell me what you know.”

(This represents the exact kind of lazy behavior I mentioned above. The reason I can name it so easily is because I have engaged in this behavior many, many times. Too many to count.)

In 2017, Albuquerque was holding a mayoral election. It was a race for mayor that started with like two dozen candidates (sound familiar?). When Theresa called it was June, the election was in November, I hadn’t given it any thought whatsoever (See above for more evidence of lazy behaviors.).

But that was exactly what Theresa was calling about. “Amy,” she said. “I’m calling because I am campaigning for Tim Keller and I want to put a sign in your yard. There are two reasons for this. Number one, you live on a busy street and people will see the sign. Number two, lots of people know where you and Matt live. It will matter if you have a sign.”

I like a woman who can state her case so clearly. Long story short: Theresa and I had coffee. She made her pitch for Tim Keller. I think Theresa is smart and knows her stuff (and I did a little independent research), and so very shortly there was a Tim Keller sign in our yard.

And then in the months before the election, this happened. Twice.

A friend came to me and said, “So. I noticed you had a Tim Keller sign in your yard. You and Matt know a lot of people. Do you know Tim Keller? I’m wondering who to vote for and I’m wondering what you can tell me.”

In other words, the sign mattered. I did not have to go out and knock on doors. I did not have to make phone calls. I did not have to confront people on the street and ask for signatures. (All of which are brave and noble things to do. Bless you if you are doing these things.) But in this case, all I had to do is to quietly say with my little sign, “We support this.” Read the sign, don’t read the sign. But if you care, Matt and Amy support this.

(Tim Keller, won by the way. No doubt, because of our sign.)

Last week, I was having coffee in a park with a friend (Ah! The joys of socializing in a coronavirus world.). She was struggling, not about who to vote for in November, but about what she should be doing to help the cause. I said, “Well, we’re putting up a sign.”

She looked at me. “Well, by golly, if Amy and Matt are putting up a sign, I’ll put up a sign.”

Now, I should go on record that a sign of our political persuasion in this state, in this city, and in our particular neighborhood carries little weight, if any at all. Everyone has the same signs on this street. I have very little confidence that our sign is going to lead to any interesting conversations whatsoever. However, my friend’s sign in her neighborhood might have a very different influence. Who knows? There is a butterfly somewhere flapping its wings. It might matter.

I think that we all have the opportunity to influence one another in quiet and meaningful ways all the time. That when we see something that is good and authentic and true, it is irresistible, and there is a part of us that says, “I want a piece of that.” This doesn’t have to mean getting aggressive or confrontational with our convictions, most of the time it simply means quietly working to do our good in the world as authentically and truthfully as possible.

And maybe, from time to time, putting up a sign in support of others doing the same.

So, this time around, no one is going to wonder who we are voting for. There will be a sign in our yard.