So I marched again
I marched in Washington DC on January 21, 2017
I never thought of myself as an activist before the 2016 presidential election. I made efforts to be a responsible citizen, writing letters to my representatives about issues that concerned me and occasional letters to the editor. I served on a city council in Southern California for nine years and did my best to be inclusive, fair-minded, and representative in the full sense of the word.
But I wasn’t the type to take to the streets. Until I woke up on November 9, 2016, heartsick and heavy with the knowledge that my beloved country had seriously gone off the rails. And what little I could do to help it get back on some kind of hopeful track had become an obligation.
So when a friend who lives in Virginia said she could get me on the bus she and her friends had chartered to go to the Women’s March in D.C., I decided to ignore my crowd-induced claustrophobia and boarded a plane from San Francisco.
Jammed in among the larger-than-the-inaugural throng, my discomfort evaporated in the swell of unity and goodwill that emanated from the closely-pressed bodies on that unforgettable day. Amid all the hubbub and passion, I heard not one angry or divisive remark.
Actually, there were a couple of patriarchal street preachers on the margins who assured us, through their megaphones, that we were possessed by the devil and should go home and save ourselves. The marchers within earshot merely grinned and waved, flashing thumbs-up signs as we persisted in moving forward.
I’ve drawn on that day many times since
Senator Harris remarked that day, “It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” Looking back over the years since, it’s safe to say she was putting it mildly. There have been days when I’ve come close to despair as this administration’s assault on decency, the embrace of hatred and division as a method for consolidating power, and the corruption of everything I ever understood America to hold dear became a continual onslaught.
But when things really look dark, I remember that march in our capital, and the memory helps me keep going.
I’ve joined the march every year since
On a smaller scale and in my local community — and with the exception of 2019 when I was sidelined by the flu. But though these marches have been less epic in size, the energy of mingling with a crowd that is as diverse as it is united in a common cause, has sent me into the rest of the year with an inner reserve of hope and determination.
This year, there is an added urgency. With the election looming, our nation is poised on a knife-edge. Despite an impeachment, despite all the well-documented flouting of the law, despite the careless mendacity, the Current Occupant may well win, however that is accomplished this time. And if he does, I am among the many, many citizens who fear that our republic as we know it won’t survive.
This year the message of the March was laser-focused
Some in the crowd wore buttons for their favorite candidates: Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, others. Some carried signs about healthcare and reproductive rights. Many signs pleaded for action to avert climate catastrophe. But the overriding theme was simple, clear, and expressed in one word: vote.
And amid that crowd, comprised of people of all ages and genders and colors, again I felt my fear dissipating and my hope renewed. If we can mobilize the young and the under-represented, if we can unite behind the Democratic candidate in agreement that regaining the White House is our one, urgent mission if we want to save our nation, we may just pull this off.
If we do, our problems will be far from over. There will be terrible wounds to heal, divisions to deal with, damage to undo if possible. But this country has risen to challenges before. We face an unprecedented one now, but while we still have the power to meet it, we must.
I’ll say it again: November is coming.