On January 21st, 2017 I did, for the first time in life, join millions of my fellow Americans and citizens of the world to step out for the Women’s March.
As a sixty year old gay woman, I’ve had ample opportunities over the years to publically stand up for women’s rights, reproductive rights, to support my LGBT brothers and sisters and countless other matters close to my heart. But growing up gay in the Bible belt, southern United States in the 1960s, I was beaten, persecuted, hated and threatened for being “different.” Experiencing vile hatred first hand, I never marched with any group for any cause out of fear for my life. Now, with age, experience, a bit more wisdom, and no fear I have grown strong and brave.
Today, I am a proud, gay, woman, who did not vote for Trump, for a long list of ethical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and experiential reasons. No, the results of this election were not what I worked hard to achieve. However, in hindsight, I realize while an election was lost, this march, and growing movement of like-hearted souls, signals a great triumph for our democracy.
The ideals I so value for my country and the world – human rights, civil liberties, tolerance of diversity, respect, accountability, activism, environmentalism, equality, honesty, and compassion for our shared humanity – I now know are the same values held by countless millions. Black, white, brown, native, first-generation immigrant, LGBT, Muslim, Christian, atheist, disabled, old, young, male, female – no matter how we are “different” from one another – I am so grateful to be alive to witness our uniting over the vast potential held within stronger together. And, part of unity, for me, means I marched, not only for those who agree with us on the direction we desire for our country and the world, but also for those, who at this moment in time, do not.
One of our sister heroes, Dr. Maya Angelou, who walked with us in spirit said, “When we know better we do better.” Yes, it is hard to imagine anyone of moral, ethical and spiritual resolve supporting a man and administration who made crystal clear their divisive, dangerous, bullying, irrational, dishonest and regressive intentions. Yet one of the most important lessons life taught me is that I cannot grow a compassionate and inclusive heart without empathy and care for those who do not believe as I do.
On Saturday January 21, 2017, we stood together united throughout our country and the world with empathy and care. And it is with empathy and care we must continue to rise together as ambassadors of love. Only with empathy and care can we ready ourselves to welcome those who are not yet part of our great movement. We must continue to stand on the side of love because the influx of those who are beginning to know better, to do better has already begun.
Opposition attitudes are changing. Disillusionment is setting in. Fear of difference is falling away. Wisdom is being gained and our fellow citizens who believe Donald Trump to be their savior are going to need us. They will need our strength. Our love. Our empathy and compassion to grow strong, to be brave, and join us.