In the 60s, the larger than ever before concentration of educated young people on college campuses began to question our country’s outdated social and civic practices. I was in grade school at the time, but I can remember fiery, visionary leaders, like John F., and Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King who gave stirring speeches and inspired these concerned young citizens to their highest calling. Those students, much maligned and vilified for their look, went on to become leaders themselves as they acted on their beliefs in equality and peace, by organizing marches, protests and sit-ins, becoming a vital component of the social change movements of the time.
I’ve always lamented being too young to participate during the height of these groundbreaking protest movements. Chiefly because my parents were of the opposite persuasion and forbid anything that even faintly smelled of protest, or progressive thinking. But I was in high school during the tail end of the Viet Nam war, and as women’s lib was being born, and have never taken for granted that I benefitted greatly coming of age after the change these protesters and activists brought about. I deeply want to honor the work and sacrifice of others that came before me. Not just for women’s rights, but for human rights. In honor of Suffragists, Abolitionists, Feminists, everyone who has gone before me, and will come after me that has fought for liberty and justice FOR ALL.
This year, I find myself simultaneously a college student and entering my sixties, and now, with the terrifying prospect of a Trump administration, I find myself questioning the fate of the very social change so hard fought and won in the sixties. This is all so ridiculous. It feels like, to use the words of a wise man I know, that we are all living in a badly written spy thriller, and are powerless to do anything about it. Like America has put a toddler in the driver’s seat of an 18-wheeler hurtling down the 405. I disagree with and dislike that man so much that I cannot stay silent. But, I still believe in civil public dialogue, in volunteering, voting, community organizing and in political advocacy. These are the defining characteristics of active civic engagement and I am committed to participating in the improvement of my community, my neighborhood, my country.
To that end, this week, my husband Dave and I, along with our friends Brent and Mary Jo will get into a car and drive to the nation’s capital to participate in the Women’s March on Washington. When Mary Jo and I heard about this event, it was barely even a question in our minds as to whether or not we’d attend. Of course we would, and our husbands supportively asked if they too could come along. So thus we excitedly began to plan our couple’s road trip. My aim in participating, without much thought, was solely to make it clear to the incoming administration that their behavior is unacceptable. I was outraged at the president-elect’s lack of respect for anyone, and I felt a solidarity and a connectedness to my fellow strong women, whom I assumed all felt the same. It never occurred to me that any reasonably intelligent person would feel differently.
But then, on Facebook, one of my best and oldest friends, whom I love more than anything, who is a strong women and not unintelligent, came out as a Trump supporter, asking: ‘will all of this protesting bring us together or tear us apart? Let us heal.’
I was at a loss for words. I could not, and have not yet replied to her comment. I was gut punched. To me, acceptance of Trump on any level was to normalize what I see as his outlandish behavior and glaring lack of class. This threw me for a loop. I am against the politics of intolerance, hell, intolerance at any level. But am I being intolerant of Trump? To be honest, yes I am. But…The leader of our country should be a role model and should set an example of respect and dignity. Anyone failing to live up to that standard should not be tolerated. I would not want my family to be exposed to a person such as Trump, much less have that person become a world leader. I want my daughter, my sons, the young people of this country and future generations to know that the behavior being displayed by this man and his followers is patently inappropriate.
I have not only the right, but the duty to protest someone who denies anyone the right to protect their own body. I want my voice to be heard. As Dr. King said “we cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead, we cannot turn back.” Our environment and climate must be protected and land and/or natural resources should not be exploited for capitalistic gains. All forms of violence against women must be eliminated.
The very day that my friend posted her comment, I also received an unsolicited message of support for what I was doing, from a guy I grew up with. He thanked me for taking action and echoed my sentiment that it’s unfortunate that in this day and age, after struggling to gain what should be a given, we look poised to take a huge backward step. He went on to say that if this continues, all of us who care about civility, equality and democracy will need to step up. To be honest, his post threw me almost more than the first. His words made me feel responsible, inadequate and unequal to the task. I had to stop and think deeply about what I was doing, and why.
I realized that even though I now qualify as a protected class, I’m still a woman of privilege, and as such, I have a responsibility to show up, to speak up for those who cannot, or will not. And to my friend, yes, this WILL help us heal. This is not about politics. It’s about sanity and self preservation. There is something seriously wrong with The Donald and when he goes over the cliff, he’s going to take the rest of us with him. So THAT, that is why I protest. And…
- Because there is work yet to be done
- Because the future belongs to those that believe in the beauty of their dreams
- Because progress requires courage and the vision to see what is possible
- If you want to make your voice heard, you have to put it out there.
- Because ’emboldened by trump’ is scary
- Because intolerance, ignorance, and hate mongering is no way to run a country
- and not to mention Russia, p***y grabbing, the wall, mocking a disabled reporter… etc.
So, why do I march?
- I march for the people on the margins
- I march in resistance to a man who has alienated anyone who isn’t a rich white male
- I march because I don’t want to look back and say, how the F**K did this happen?
- I march because I’ve read the Handmaids Tale
- I march because I’ve seen Hunger Games
- I march because I need to stand up against an administration that threatens everything I believe in
- I march because healthcare, the environment, legal abortion, prisoners’ rights, voting rights, a free press, gun safety, racial and gender equality, and a higher minimum wage
- I march because I will not normalize trump
- I march because I simply cannot allow myself to accept trump as the new normal
It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences…
The only way to heal my friends, is to stand up for what we believe.