“How was the march?”
It was a simple text message from a friend who knew I had joined the Women’s March in downtown Lexington on Saturday, January 21. It caught me in the midst of a moment.
“So beautiful,” my response started. “So many interesting (because they were interested) and diverse people. The small minority of people that were there because they were angry gave way to the overwhelming majority of people that were hopeful and excited about the future.”
The signs were clever, I noted. “It was inspirational to see so many people empowered and free. Every conversation I had was around the beauty of the experience, not the anger that was a small part of its impetus.”
After some reflection, I realized that my words to a friend are true. They are truer than any words I could have purposely thought of. True in a way that only stream-of-consciousness can be. What at first was the effusion of an average, mid-thirties, white girl in Lexington proved to be the unadulterated language of the heart.
I’ve been concerned about our world for some time now. From what I gather, most of us have been. There’s so much anger being spewed, so much hate cultivated and recycled and 24-hour cycled. The fear in our culture has reached a boiling point and many of us don’t know what to do with it except to channel it into hate and anger.
I am guilty of it.
Here’s an example:
A friend of mine recently attended a sporting event with some children. Her recounting of the event agitated me and I vomited hateful and nasty commentary. She told the story of angry men, screaming at their crying children and likened the event to what she imagined a dogfight to be.
I can’t remember my words exactly, but they went something like this: “this whole country is fu*!ed. Those idiots are just guaranteeing that their children turn out to be as backwards as they are. In an effort to teach their children to be men, they’re scaring the human being out of them and turning them into monsters instead.”
I don’t have children, but if I did, I’d hope they never hear the words, “shut up and stop being a sissy.” I truly hope that I wouldn’t tell a young man to stop acting like a girl in a way, though not directly expressed, directly expresses that girls are less than him, weaker than him and somehow innately inferior.
The January 21st march, juxtaposed with the account of what happened at that children’s sporting event, mere days apart from each other, paints one picture of the different attitudes we are cultivating in our homes and in our community.
My favorite snapshot from the event is of a little girl in a Wonder Woman outfit.
It was most certainly not a costume as it was selected with intention and perfectly appropriate for the occasion. Evey Jarvis’ mother allowed me to photograph her. As she was spinning around and waving her hands, it occurred to me that Wonder Girls turn into Wonder Women and that today, in 2017, that is exactly what she has the opportunity to become.
The march was a show of solidarity by women and men. I heard it referred to not as a march for women’s rights but a march for human rights, led by women. Led by moms and supported by dads. Led by daughters and cheered on by brothers. Led by Wonder Women and encouraged by Super Men. I marched with people I love, many of them strangers, some of them pro-life, some of them pro-choice, all of them pro-love. Every single one of them, a Super Hero.
Although it is often easier to react rather than to respond, to seek to be understood rather than to understand, to sew hate rather than sew love, we need to start thinking about our actions. Now, more than ever, it is important that we remember to put on our Wonder Woman cuffs and our Super Man capes and be brave. Now, more than ever, we need to lift one another up and stop putting people down. To fix this situation, we have got to start listening to each other and stop treating people, other humans, like they don’t matter.
This is a call to action.
This is a time for courage.
We all have it. Every single one of us is brave. We accomplish tremendous feats every day. When we are heartbroken and go to work anyway, when we are tortured by loss and suffering and manage to get through another waking hour, when we do the right thing even if it’s hard, when we listen to someone that annoys us, when we smile at a stranger, when we choose adventure over monotony, when we endeavor to make our monotony an adventure, when we create, when we dare, when we love … God … loving is so brave, when we put others first, when we follow our hearts, when we try … trying is brave, when we recognize another’s effort, when we open our eyes and see each other as equals, when we say ‘I’m sorry,’ when we accept an apology, when we utter an honest ‘no,’ when we heed an authentic ‘yes,’ when we dance, when we sing, when we laugh and when we cry.
Maybe the last remaining indisputable fact in our world is this: we are all human. We are infinite spirits housed in finite flesh and bones. Despite our different experiences, no experience is more bonding than that of our common human one.
To be human is to be brave.
That little girl twirling in her Super Woman outfit has all the courage she needs and it can be nourished by experiences like what we saw in Lexington and around the world on the 21st of January. Her community coming together to stand against hate has all the vital ingredients needed for a spirit to flourish.
Here is the challenge: let us not allow events like this to come and go. Let us not forget what we felt and what we saw. Let us take this opportunity to effect change. This event deserves our attention and our time. Patience is brave. Let us honor what happened on that Saturday by continuing to stand up for each other. Let’s stand up for everyone, together. Let us go forward and listen to one another. Really listen, ever mindful that if the words we are hearing with our ears scare us and seduce our anger we can listen with our hearts instead. From that tiny, quiet place, we can hand each other a cape and save the world.
(Photos and video by Lillie Ruschell)