Why I am marching

I will not be at the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday primarily because I struggle in large crowds where I have no quick exit to a quiet space. I will, however, be at the sister march in Ithaca on Saturday. Since the election, when I woke up to learn the orange toad had won and I promptly threw up, I have been soul searching about my commitment to the principles I hold and how to better participate in democracy (I know we’re a republic, that’s a debate for another time.) It is once in a generation that you see an opportunity to step up and speak up for the future you envision in such a public way. This march is one of those key visible moments.

I march:

  • Because it is my constitutional right to do so and I will protect that right.
  • Because I will not live my life in fear of some faceless unknown or the “other”.
  • Because I am one voice among many and we do not have to compete for the limelight in order to validate ourselves.
  • Because my right to make decisions about my medical health should not be legislated.
  • Because I should not be denied health insurance in the future just because of my ongoing treatment for depression.
  • Because I should have recourse to hold trolls accountable to their words and actions when they tell me to return to the kitchen or otherwise threaten my physical and emotional self.
  • Because I went to a public school with teachers that helped shape me into a formidable woman. I believe a similar critical, inclusive education is fundamental for all children. It is fundamental for citizens to participate in a democracy.
  • Because I know that libraries are centers of community and hubs of information that must not be replaced by commercial interests.
  • Because education does not equal elitism.
  • Because climate change threatens humanity and it is past time for humans to take responsibility for our enormous impact on the planet.
  • Because I believe democracy should represent all people; not the wealthy minority.
  • Because I do not believe government is a business with a profit to maximize.
  • Because I believe an open government encourages accountability on the elected members of government that is necessary to a healthy, stable democracy.
  • Because I believe that the myth of the traditional nuclear family (as consisting of one (white) woman married to one (white) man to produce other (white, Christian) children) is something everyone should aspire to is harmful to this nation.
  • Because supporting art, creativity, and expression of difference means creating visions of the future for people who do not look like me.
  • Because I eagerly anticipate taking my niece and nephew camping in the national forests and hiking in national parks. I look forward to teaching them how to read animal tracks and showing them the wonder and brutality of the natural world.
  • Because my niece’s father was born in Turkey and is a naturalized citizen and my nephew’s father was born in Chile and is on his way to becoming a naturalized citizen. Neither child nor their parents should EVER feel they are not welcome in their country – this country.
  • Because my friends should not be persecuted because of who they are and who they aspire to be.
  • Because my friends contribute wonders to this country and should not be excluded because of their beliefs, their skin color, their sexuality, or because their genitals are interior instead of exterior.
  • Because I fear for the safety of my friends in the face of systemized racial violence – and I know their terror is greater.
  • Because my friend is a rockstar at her job and her disability should not be held against her by any employer.
  • Because my employer is unlikely to censure me for expressing a political opinion.

I march:

  • To honor the suffragists who marched in 1913 on the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration to protest “the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded.” Their quest to acquire the necessary permits is inspiring and their movement was imperfect. But their actions are why I can live independently today.

I march:

  • For the children of Flint whose lives are altered because politicians decided to undermine necessary infrastructure.
  • For the courageous communities at Standing Rock who are fighting to protect their sovereignty.
  • For the mother who cannot because Saturday was the only day Planned Parenthood could schedule her breast exam after she found a lump.
  • For the woman who cannot because she has to save all her vacation so she can spend two weeks with her newborn before returning to work.
  • For the man who has to work two jobs because minimum wage is not a living wage.
  • For the father who is home with a sick child so his husband can march instead.
  • For the student who must work three part-time jobs while maintaining high grades so they can pay for public college in pursuit of their career aspirations.
  • For the next generation of children who should learn how menstruation works and how pregnancy doesn’t.
  • For the future where my niece and nephew can march to advocate for causes they believe in.

I march because the future I envision is inclusive of people who do not look like me, think like me, believe like me and that is okay so long as we treat each other with respect in our disagreements.

I march because the future I envision is fundamentally threatened by the orange toad, his cronies, and the government that used unconstitutional methods to limit voting, a platform based on fear, and a promise that fed a desire to return to the mythical past of the “great white man” so they could maintain control.

But here’s the thing.

Pundits and people threatened by this vision may call the march a war on “insert cool adjective/noun combination here”. But wars have an end with a winner and a loser – or more often only losers.

I see this march as a chorus of people who are marching for reasons that differ from mine. It will be a chorus with dissonance which holds its own kind of beauty. Let us come together to demonstrate that we are not going to back down from building a future that encourages our participation and includes a diversity of voices and experiences. The march is a single day to powerfully amplify voices in the most literal way imaginable.

Building a future is an act that is always in progress, not a war to win or lose. The future I envision is not for myself but for my nephews and nieces and their potential children in 100 years. We can march on Saturday to advocate a particular future and on Sunday we can go back to disagreeing on priorities and methods for building that future. Disagreements lead to compromises. That is democracy, and if done respectfully it will be messy and wonderful and imperfect. But it is far, far better than accepting the demands of a government, a body of powerful and flawed individuals, that actively call for the removal of our chorus because it threatens their view of the future which is a pale, nostalgic vision of a past that was always a myth.

And so I and many others will march. We will march for different reasons. We may disagree on those reasons and methods to reach certain outcomes. But we will march together anyway because our voices are stronger, louder, and harder to ignore when in chorus.

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