The March Around the World
Before we marched, we were sure of the need to engage but unsure how. Before we marched, we knew that we were not alone in our anger and fear, but we did not know the breadth and intensity of the community. Now we know. And, for the first time since the election, we feel hopeful. And powerful. We can overcome.
When we first heard about the march, we immediately reserved our places on the bus, though we were not sure we would actually go to Washington. We were not sure about the march’s purpose, message or timing, and did not want to be disrespectful of the peaceful transition of power. But as the transition went on, and the unthinkable risks of a Trump presidency became tangible, our uncertainty diminished. So we were in--Karen to arrive in DC early on Inauguration Day with her daughter, Erica to ride the bus with her sister. At the same time, we both were desperately--and it turns out foolishly--hopeful that the inaugural address would show a President who was positive, who affirmed American values, and who was committed to unifying the country. Instead, the President chose to shock, by using language hearkening back to a dark time in our history, and by portraying an apocalyptic but false America.
Everything about the march was in contrast to this dystopian picture. Very young, very old, male, female, straight and gay, black, white, brown, native and immigrant--and everyone in between--together, respectfully, without malice or rancor or anger or fear. The mood was joyous and noisy, reveling in democracy and diversity. There was pride and resolve. There was community, not isolation or carnage. It wasn’t the east or west coast. People came from everywhere (a shout out to the women next to us, from Flint). There was a large dose of humor (“Melania, blink twice if you need help”). Even the police joined in--and we applauded as they encouraged us to yell and sing even louder. It was positive. It was hopeful. Though our feet were tired from standing for hours, we wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
And, best of all, it confirmed that we are not alone. We are not detached from the “real” America. We are not alone in our belief that America is strong and great enough to withstand any onslaught. Our fears about going backwards--on diversity, on income inequality, in our place in the world as the shining light on the hill, on human rights, climate change, immigration--are shared. We are part of a large and powerful community, both here and abroad, and we will make our voices heard.
We were dismayed the next day when some spoke dismissively about the marches, as large as they were, saying we wouldn’t amount to anything--that having shown up for one day, we would go back to what we were doing. That our commitment was short term and tenuous. A party, not a movement.
That’s not what we saw at all. This was not the end. This was the beginning. Of working. Of organizing. Of getting lists and using them. Of changing the course. Of making sure that we have checks and balances that work.
We saw, “Yes, we can. And yes, we will".