When asked if she would join a protest movement against the Viet Nam War, Mother Teresa replied that although she would not demonstrate against the war, she would march for peace.
In that spirit, Chris and I joined 50,000 others in Austin, Texas for the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. Instead of considering this a walk against the new president, I walked in support of values, which I consider basic human rights. My kind husband spent about 90 minutes helping people climb over the fence to get on Congress Avenue.
Racial Minorities— I walked to demonstrate support for racial equity. Racial discrimination may appear healed to many, but bigotry emerges alive and well. Those who believe we all get a fair shot at success believe in a myth. Allowing all citizens an equal playing field begins, but does not end with fair voting opportunities.
Religious Freedom— Our constitution guarantees freedom of religion but carefully avoids designating any specific religion. I walked to support believers of all faiths.
Women— If truly treated as equals, women will not be demeaned as sexual objects (as during the campaign) but will be perceived as valued citizens with equal pay and protection by the law.
Immigrants— Our ancestors arrived seeking a better way of life. Today, immigrants still walk that same hopeful path. Although vetting must be part of the process, courteous acceptance continues to be basic to our country’s values.
Dreamers— I walked in support of Dreamers. Children raised in the United States who honor our laws and love this country deserve to remain here to make their own contributions.
Sexual and Gender Rights— I walked to uphold the freedom of consenting adults to choose whom to love. I also walked for the rights of those who feel led to adopt gender changes.
Trump’s followers urge everyone to “give him a chance”. I agree. However, hoping for the best and praying for sound and healthy decisions will not exempt us from watching and listening. We cannot fall into docile acceptance without commitment to thoughtful inquiry. Those who participated did so in support of values that seemed at risk during Trump’s campaign.
Marchers proclaimed the power of common citizens to have a voice and make a difference. I left in awe at the strength I witnessed. A clear message proclaimed, “We are here. Listen to our voices.” I joined the marchers because it became a privilege and honor to do so.
Now, a critical question faces everyone who marched on all seven continents. Trump won. Can we “give him his chance” while remaining firm on values that may be at risk? What’s next? Do we bask in the moment and go back to sleep? Can the energy of the marches propel all of us (those who voted for Trump and those who did not) to pay attention and go into action if needed?