I told my sister I was proud that she was marching, but I could not do it. I was very anxious about being in crowds upon crowds of people. Then, she decided to march close to home, in Atlanta. I decided if I could name the reasons I should march, then I would do it.
Here is what I came up with. This is why I plan to march on January 21, 2017.
Because marching is a visual signal of the multitude of people who have something to say. It’s one thing to claim “alot of people.” It is quite another thing to see the impact on cities around the globe when people show up by the thousands, stand in city streets, and speak. This visual reminder becomes part of our imagination when we talk about “We, the People.”
Because I am choosing to have trust in those who love me. I am trusting that they will love me more than they dislike my views. There is some risk for me in marching, in that my presence there will offend some family and friends. My husband and my Dad wholeheartedly support me marching, even thought they will not be there. I know that others may be surprised, offended or confused that I would participate. I am trusting that they will continue to love me in spite of how we see things differently. I have listened when they share. I have respectfully watched Fox News when it is on in their homes. Mostly, I don’t bring up political thoughts, because I am usually not interested in that being the focus. But marching might add a sharper line between us. Even so, I trust that my friends have the capacity to keep laughing, loving my family, and doing life along with me, despite differences. I believe in them and I think they do.
Because I am a Christian, a follower of Christ. Imperfect, but transformed by grace. The people who have the loudest platform today and claim to be followers of Christ have rhetoric and actions that often look very little like Christ. I know that they have broken the hearts of people Jesus loves by their words and actions. They don’t get to be the only voice of the Church.
Because I want some people to know they are not alone. As much as I have maintained relationships with people who disagree with me, I know of so very many people who been hurt, lost friendships and lost family relationships because of the divisiveness of this election season. It’s true. It breaks my heart. I cannot imagine their pain. For many people, their sense of loneliness will be healed somewhat by gathering with hundreds of people in this march who give them space to be heard.
Because I believe we need a voice for equal opportunity for all people, regardless of their race, gender, or sexuality. I believe we have much work to do towards equality. I believe that work is going to be made more difficult in these days. If you think things are okay, I would invite you to find someone you do not know very well. Talk to someone whose experience in life is different than yours. Skip the memes on social media and sit down to lunch with them. Ask them to tell a few stories. I did. It changed my heart. I remembered that their sacred worth is the same as mine, but their access to opportunities is simply not the same as mine.
Because I am a woman. Because I was raised by strong women. I cannot abide the ways that women have been regarded in recent months and I will lift my voice to say that women are intelligent, powerful, creative, beloved people worthy being treated with respect and dignity.
Because I can, and others cannot. I know that many, many more women and men would like to march in solidarity for the ideals of equality and social justice. But they can’t be there on Saturday. Some of them have to work. Some of them would be fired from their jobs because their employers disagree with them. Some of them serve in the armed forces and cannot protest at this time. Some have small children and cannot make the trip. I think these are valid reasons, and I know they will be offering their own voice in their own way. But I can go. I have the time, I have a car, I have a family who supports me, I won’t lose my job because I am there. So, I will march for them.
Because I was a Special Education Teacher. I taught some of the most loving, encouraging, delightful students in this world. They have Autism and Mild Intellectual Disabilities. They taught me truths I will never forget. They have been mocked by someone in a position of power. They have been mocked by the dismissal of their unique needs in our educational system. Their needs have been overlooked in the consideration of our healthcare system. I will march for Mandy, Chris, Justin, Evan, Cassidy, and so many others like them.
Because I am not a Democrat, and I am not a Republican. I do not identify solely with just one of these parties. I am a voting citizen, one who is shaped by my commitment to follow in the way of Jesus Christ. Put all that together and sometimes you get votes for Democratic candidates. Sometimes, you get a vote for a Republican candidate. [Side sermon: Lately, my disappointments in one party have vastly outweighed the other party, but I still hold: I do not vote down a party line. I put my vote where my heart is. My heart is redeemed and shaped by Christ who came to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, Luke 4:18] That said, this nation needs more of us who are not so defined by our party that we cannot see any value in the other party. There are multitudes of us who voted outside our usual party affiliations this year because of conscience and moral convictions. We need to be present in these marches and gatherings.
Because in the United States of America, we have the right to peacefully assemble. It is part of the fabric of our democracy, and the way that many, many movements for the greater good of our nation have happened. I suppose this is why I give a silent cheer every time I see people, even those with whom I disagree, gathered in public places to voice their beliefs. Simply standing in a crowd of people assembled to raise their voices gives me chills and brings a tear of gratitude to my eyes for the gifts our great nation offers to us. It is not this way in every part of the world. When I am a part of a public gathering, I always whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for all of those men and women who have served protecting this freedom.
Because bullies must not think they have won. There are many instances of elected officials manipulating the systems that exist to grab more power. It is not right. I may not defeat them, but I will not ignore bully behavior.
Because I am deeply concerned about the people being placed in leadership and cabinet positions. I have listened to them, I have read their positions. I am concerned about the ways these leaders will shape our nation’s future.
Because a march creates a “theater of conscience, to dramatize issues like the healthcare that keeps some of our families from bankruptcy and other family members from death,” as Andrew Silver said so beautifully. I have family members who, though they don’t want to talk about it, will be devastated by changes that leave them lacking health care. I pray that there will be a replacement that helps them. But there are real fears about this.
Because hearing one another matters. I have been encouraged. Since the election, I have been encouraged many times by conversations with people who have vastly different political views. A couple of times, I sought understanding and asked earnest questions of some of the most adamant Democrats and die-hard Republican friends I know. They answered me and we shared. One precious friend said, “I hope we are still friends?” I said, “You’re stuck with me as your friend, this election does not get to change that.” I think she believed me. This march, for me, is not about President Trump. I find most of what he has said to be appalling and unacceptable. For me, however, this day is not about him. I think his election to the Presidency is perhaps a mirror showing us what we as a nation have ignored for too long. At the outset of the this new administration, this act of raising dissident voices is one way to express that our country need not have the victors ruling and the losers enduring in silence. This is not a sporting event where one team licks their wounds and waits for the next game. We get to have a voice. More voices make us stronger.
Because I am a mother. I want a world for my son that is far better than the one described by the rhetoric I have heard in this election season. I want him to know some things are worth marching for.
But mostly . . .
Because my mother is marching. I will join my sister, brother and our mom in this march. She is a 61 year old, conservative, evangelical grandmother who is disabled. She has decided enough is enough. It is time to speak up against rhetoric that divides, abuses power, and makes enemies of us. She will walk when she can, but use a wheelchair mostly. She and Dad are the ones who taught me how to love. I will march with my mom.