I drove myself to Chicago on an unusually warm January day this weekend. Had breakfast with a friend and then walked under blue skies and sunshine to join tens of thousands of other people – over 200,000 of them actually – to peacefully protest some of the changes and attitudes that have crept their way into society.
Let me make this clear – I did not march to make a political statement against President Trump. I marched because I am incredulous at what has happened in the past year. I believe in our country and our democratic system. I believe in the peaceful transfer of power. I believe that our country is bigger than one person. So I didn’t boycott the inauguration. And my attendance Saturday didn’t rise from anger at a person – my attendance rose from shock and more than a little fear at the society that gave power to a an entire administration that has already inspired, emboldened and empowered hate and disrespect. And I want those people to know that I am watching.
I came home Saturday inspired and hopeful and amazed at the turnout across the country and the world. Millions of people – primarily women but there were plenty of men out there too – millions of us took a stand and said NO to taking away human rights. No to discrimination. No to hate. It was beautiful and peaceful and I still smile thinking about it.
Since then I’ve seen women angrily posting on social media about how this march didn’t represent them. How this march was frivolous and unnecessary. How they don’t feel discriminated against and their right to vote isn’t going anywhere and they don’t experience any inequality because they are a woman. Posts that seemed threatened by a peaceful protest. And here’s the thing… protests make people uncomfortable – especially people who don’t want to look beyond themselves. You know what? I am not particularly discriminated against either but I think that makes it more important to speak up for others – for the single mother who relies on Planned Parenthood for her annual exam. For the lesbian woman who may not have the right to be with her life partner in the hospital. For the woman whose husband might be deported because of changes in work visas and immigration laws. There are real problems on the horizon and someone needs to step up and say that’s not okay. I don’t expect to agree with everything any government administration does – but when it comes to taking away the rights to live, work, and love in this country… it’s not okay.
I’m not angry at women who didn’t want to march but I think it’s important to know that I marched for valid reasons and those reasons deserve respect:
I marched because I am a mother who wants my kids – especially my girls – to see that in the face of adversity I stand up for what I believe.
I marched because I want my children to grow up in a society that is accepting and diverse – a society where a person’s character means more than the color of their skin or their ethnic background.
I marched because I am incredulous that so many people stood on the sidelines as others raised up a man who denigrates others – and I refuse to stand on the sideline.
I marched because I am proud of my country and want it to continue to welcome people in need of a safe place to live, work and raise a family.
I marched because I believe that ethics are important – not something to be skipped over.
I marched because it is NEVER okay to stand by and permit people to act out of prejudice or bigotry. Because I don’t want my children to grow up in a society that treats people poorly – or even violently – because of their race or nationality or faith or any difference.
I marched because I have been so sad for months. Sad of hearing stories of people feeling emboldened to treat people horribly – and of not enough people showing them a different way to live.
I marched as an example. An example of peaceful protest against a society that seems unable to respectfully differ. So unable that the implausible extreme has become reality. And I want to be an example of lifting up the good and caring for each other.
Do I think this march is going to make a difference in the way people in Washington D.C. lead our country? No, at least not as one event. But I hope that it makes some lawmakers stop and think… to work for the greater good. And I really, truly hope that this march embraces my corner of the world and pushes love over hate, promotes inclusion over exclusion, and encourages treating others the way we want to be treated.
Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.