Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should be aware that four million of us recently came together across our nation to stand up and say that we will not sit quietly by while our civil liberties are stripped away from us, one by one. What many people, including those currently serving in the executive branch of our government, fail to understand is best summed up by a sign that made several appearances at the march: “You’re so vain, I bet you think this march is about you.”
Some in the media referred to it as a march against Trump, though that is a gross over-simplification. If this was merely about one man, he would not have been elected president, and we would not be in the seemingly sinking boat we currently are. He is a symptom of and the largest and loudest example of allowing hate and fear to rule.
I, along with many others, would like nothing better than for Trump to, “prove us wrong,” another sign I love. Trump failing at the Presidency would be terrible for America, but Trump succeeding at what his current agenda appears to be (dismantling the ACA without first ensuring there is something better, stripping away the very basic right of bodily autonomy for all women, systematically destroying the Department of Education, the EPA, and the right to free press) would be even more disastrous. Attempting to “Make America Great” at the expense of women, people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and every American that does not share the same beliefs and level of privilege that Trump does (and let’s face it, that is nearly everyone) goes against every principle our nation was founded on.
So, while some call us “sore losers” and “cry babies” for standing up and defending our democracy and the rights of our fellow Americans, and pointing out the dangerous and slippery slope the current administration has embarked upon, they have entirely missed the point. I was there last Saturday, marching down the Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue with women, men, children, young, old, gay, straight, transgender, black, white, Christian, Muslim, Atheist and everyone in between, and “sore losers” were not what I saw.
I saw love and kindness and inclusion in too many forms to count.
I saw women in their 70’s and older holding signs saying, “I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit,” remembering a time before Roe v Wade when women routinely died from illegal and unsafe abortions.
I saw people of privilege marching for those without, understanding that when some Americans do not share the same freedoms so many have fought for for centuries, none are free.
I saw people hug the metro officer, after seeing her tearing up from a combination of the overwhelming task of getting hundreds of thousands of people safely into the city and the raw emotion of realizing that while she was working, those same people were marching for her rights.
I saw people offer strangers snacks, tissues, directions, support, and offers to hold their stuff while they were in the porta potty.
I saw people with different causes (the environment, women’s rights, LGTBQ rights, immigration rights) supporting each other’s causes, whether they personally felt strongly about them or not.
I saw crowds part instantly to allow an ambulance through, clap and cheer for a fire engine, and thank every law enforcement officer they encountered.
I saw more than a million people come together in one city without a single arrest or instance of violence, and that same unlikely event occur from city to city across the globe. Peaceful protest is powerful and it works.
I saw people that desperately want to keep America great, that would love nothing more than to say, four years from now, “you know what, you were right – maybe I did overreact,” but whom fear the very real possibility of the dismantling of our first amendment rights, the destruction of our health, our families, and our planet. I will happily be the first to say I was wrong, but we will not sit idly in the name of “giving them a chance,” while they, bit by bit, take away everything that already makes us great.