If you REALLY know me, none of this will come as a surprise. You might even nod your head and smile a little bit.
I value my friends. Throughout the years I’ve found friends of all colors, races, genders, political backgrounds, and varying faiths. I’ve learned and gained so much richness in life from them. For that, I am thankful.
This week – actually this whole election cycle – has made me examine my values, my beliefs, my feelings. The whole thing has been ugly, on both sides. At times I shook my head in dismay and amazement. The things I have read on social media, things I have seen on television, things I have heard first-hand -- all have astounded me.
I chose to vote for Hillary Clinton. I absolutely could not reconcile my core beliefs with the racism, misogyny, prejudice, and bullying I saw in the other candidate. To be perfectly honest, I was shocked by the evangelical support he gathered. I was disgusted by most of what I heard and saw of him. Now -- did I agree with Hillary 100%? No, but rarely do I agree 100% with any politician. Overall, I felt that she was by far the better choice. I felt a thrill to be casting my vote for HER!
We all know the outcome of the election.
We’ve all seen the beginnings of the backlash. The blatant in-your-face acts of racism, the sexist comments, the fear that runs through the hearts of those who are marginalized in some way.
Therefore, I made another big decision.
I decided to march in the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017.
The moment I heard about it, I KNEW I was going. I could feel it in my Spirit, that I HAD to do this. It is one of those once-in-a-lifetime things that I knew if I did NOT go…I would regret it for the rest of my life. As soon as I could find a group going from my area, I booked my seat on the bus.
WHY am I doing this? I avoid crowds, and often find myself “all peopled out” after dealing with folks a while. I am not one to rock the boat, or be vocal about my opinions. I enjoy my nice quiet retirement life. But this is one thing that requires me to forget my “comfort zone” and show what I believe.
So to answer WHY:
I am marching in support of love and tolerance, equality for all.
I am marching to honor my parents, who taught me from an early age to value the dignity of EVERY person, to respect all people regardless of color, sex, or belief system. They taught me that bullying was wrong; I believe it is STILL wrong.
I am marching to honor my daughters and my son, and my grandsons -- who I hope will one day live in a world that has no more prejudice or bullying, where the words “with liberty and justice for all” do not just apply to all white men of a certain faith system. And I hope they also enjoy the richness of knowing people who come from different backgrounds than they do.
I am marching to honor my friends whose skin is not the same color as mine. Two of my dearest friends were victimized in the days following the election. One received death threats and his car was vandalized. The other was harassed in a local restaurant and called horrible names by a white stranger. I’ve had many African American friends who have marched in protests before. I realize that I am ashamed for not marching with them before now.
I am marching to honor my friends whose faith is different from mine. I believe that sharing our respective beliefs with one another strengthens us all in that we can all learn something from each other. Education can conquer fear.
I am marching to honor my friends in the LGBTQ community. May they no longer have to live in fear for accepting who they are and who they love.
I am marching for women’s rights. I will march in gratitude for women in history such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the other suffragettes who bought the right for women like me to vote. I will march in gratitude to Rosa Parks, who serves as an example of quiet strength and bravery for all of us. And I will march in gratitude and remembrance of strong women in my own family – like my great-grandmother Emma who struggled to provide for her children after becoming a widow, in an age when it wasn’t considered “proper” for a woman to work outside the home. And I will march for those of us women who know firsthand how it feels to be discriminated against because of being female, how not being in the “good ol’ boys club” made a direct impact on our lives.
One of my favorite authors, Maya Angelou summed it up perfectly when she wrote, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” I choose to focus on helping build a world that works together for the common good. I choose to see how we are alike, rather than separate us because of our differences.
Blessings to all.