This past Saturday like millions of other women I participated in the Women’s March alongside my husband, my daughter, some friends and their young daughters. I marched here in Raleigh (a sister march to the larger one in Washington DC and the thousands of others happening around the world) and the crowd here in Raleigh was about 20,000 strong. It was the largest protest in American history and 1 in 100 Americans participated in some way. I walked in solidarity and it was affirming, powerful and beautiful. I may not have agreed with everyone around me 100%, but that is the point, that I walked alongside those who feel morally challenged in some way, like myself, and support that they have the right to be heard.
I was hesitant to go at first because I don’t like crowds and I was worried about counter protests. I thought ‘I have other ways of making my voice heard that don’t involve picketing’. Living here in the capital city of North Carolina we have been in the midst of a contentious political climate for the past few years. I am sure you have heard of the bathroom bill, not to mention many other challenging policies that have limited public schools among other things. I have watched dozens of teachers leave my daughter’s elementary school because classroom size limits were lifted causing already stretched resources and underpaid teachers to just move on to more supportive opportunities.
I’ve watched as many of my friends protested and picketed and created noise to protest, and thought ‘I don’t agree with these policies, but protesting is intense’. Then, as if all the other frustrating things weren’t enough, the then voted out (in a very tight race) Governor called secret midnight sessions to strip the incoming Governor of his power to make change and citizens the power to vote more fairly through redistricting, despite the general public having voted for this change. I know that that is somewhat typical but the values are atypical and I don’t share them. The politics obviously go much deeper than just this paragraph touches on but it feels like the ushering in of something much larger and more disturbing for democracy. It feels like a pivotal time, that just sitting idly by and voting for change isn’t enough and it took seeing this at a local level to recognize the need on a national level.
The very founding of our country is based on the right to peacefully express yourself. I believe it is our country’s duty and our duty as humans to walk beside others whose views may or may not be the same but accepting that they have rights and their own unique set of challenges. Brene Brown, whose words move me greatly had a great piece that you can see on her facebook page about her thoughts on the march. She, like me, is an introvert who was so moved to action she couldn’t not participate. She also shared this quote by Theodore Roosevelt “To stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public” meaning if we disagree with certain policies or values, it is our duty to make them known, especially if there is significant resistance to them. To those that felt resistance to the march, I hear you as well. I respectfully disagree that this was a negative blight or stain on our country more so than the tenor of the new administration. It is not at all about “an eye for an eye” instead an opposition to the priority and presentation of the values being ushered in.
I was so moved by the many expressions of love and encouragement. Here’s to a more positive and supportive environment and to being the change that you wish to see in the world.