Hopeless. Helpless. Outnumbered. Unsafe. Frightened.
These are emotions I have been struggling with since one of our Nation’s once respectable major political parties selected a self-proclaimed sexual assaulter, unstable, reality TV star to represent them for the highest office in the Nation.
The emotions amplified after the electoral college made him the President-Elect. (He did not “win” the election, losing by more than 3 MILLION votes, but due to the electoral college system in our Nation and the involvement of foreign powers in our election, he was named PE).
Well, he is President now. It isn’t a joke, not a funny but sad SNL skit. It is a threat to our Nation and the World. Other countries get it. They already have to deal with North Korea and the insane, unstable dictator there, they are very aware of the terrifying reality we live in with in the United States and the repercussions that holds for the rest of the world.
Today these overwhelming emotions changed for me. My sister and I got on the ferry this morning and headed into Seattle. We went to the Womxn’s March on Seattle.
We got to Judkins Park as people were still crushing in on the massive crowd. As we arrived there were already more than 70,000 people ready to mobilize, rather than normalize this new regime.
Before the speakers began I got to calm my nerves (really, it was a BIG crowd!) with the help of one group that brought Shane with. Shane is the friendly, happy dog in this picture. It was impossible to get a great photo not because he wasn’t photogenic or I didn’t have ample opportunity, but when his face was clear for a great shot, I was busy petting him! (Thank you to the folks who brought Shane.)
We heard announcements including the call for Campbell the lost child. Who was almost immediately located with family friends. The microphone would be used to get Campbell back into her waiting mothers arms once more before the crowd was sent on the path to Seattle Center.
Using the amplifying system for more than announcements and locating wayward daughters, we were treated to some personal stories from varying backgrounds about what this march meant to them. From someone who had stood by the ER doctors that lived through the horrors of clothes hanger abortions, to a powerful Native American that recognized the native land we stood on and the racism and oppression that ruled her family’s life just one generation ago, the stories were powerful. All with the message: still I rise.
We can be unafraid, and we can feel fear… and still we rise.
There was a palpable swell of emotion in the mass as the words of Maya Angelou rang true to us.
As I heard the next speaker translate the Prayer of a Farm Workers’ Struggle a single raindrop fell on my left cheek in the path a teardrop would have taken. “Help us love even those who hate us; So we can change the world.”
By the time we headed on the 3.6 mile sojourn across town there were well over 100,000. Some estimates put the number at more than 150,000 (and even 175,000!).
Near the beginning of the march we heard a roar behind us, we turned around in time to catch the “wave” (the type used at sports stadiums) coming our way. With a holler and some whistles, we sent it forward. We were treated to several such opportunities to send our voices forward or backward to the other marchers.
Shortly after the first wave there was more excitement. People were looking and pointing up. Two bald eagles had chosen to escort us with lazy circles on our route.
The cheering of the massive crowd didn’t frighten them off, they seemed to respond to it, gliding effortlessly above us. It was truly inspiring. It felt as though we were being honored by our living, breathing Nation’s emblem, grateful for us protecting the sanctity of all that is so very good about this great Nation. There was an understanding in that moment. If we take care of them, the animals, habitat, land, they would watch over us. It’s not just women we need to prevent this new regime from raping with impunity.
We saw signs printed from online sources, custom printed signs representing #whyImarch, and many handmade signs from materials like foamboard, corrugated plastic, cardboard and sticks.
Some messages were simple like #woke or AGHAST. Some were complex, citing the myriad reasons the megalomaniac in our White House is a threat to our society and the world. Some had photos of children, grandchildren, nieces, making stories personal. A few used easy to chant slogans to help make a point “Love, not hate, makes America great” or “Heal don’t repeal ACA.”
It was personal. Everyone there was there for a reason, reading the signs, talking with the people it wasn’t hard to comprehend that each of those 150,000+ stories were just as poignant as the women that spoke from their hearts just before the march. Each person there represented many more that could not be.
The march took hours longer than planned. They were expecting a HUGE crowd of 60-70,000. It took a while longer than they planned for all 150,000 of us to make our ways along the 3.6 mile path. But we did. People in wheelchairs, with canes, with infants and with teenagers. So many people, protesters that have been protesting since Vietnam and so many that have never marched or protested for anything. We made it. Together.
Although it was clear from the signs that many of us had different messages, agendas, concerns to express with our marching today, we all did it, happily, healthily, and together. Because we can work together even when we don’t agree 100% and work towards the common good, if we have common decency and respect for each other (even the different others – or more accurately, quoting Ramana Maharshi, “There are no others.”)
I am proud and honored to have been a part of this spectacular day in herstory. I am looking forward to the next step, and the next march, and the next march and the march after that until society is returned to a safe, healthy place for my granddaughter to grow up and reach her potential, whatever that may be.