I am still recovering from the emotional and physical exertion and elation of the NYC Women’s March. Marches held in more than 500 US cities were attended by at least 3.3 million people and international marches by another quarter million. Estimates are still coming in from 200 uncounted US marches and others. At least 70 UUFSB members and their children participated in the marches in NYC or Washington D.C., and in smaller towns and cities in which people found themselves that Saturday.
Between the NYC and D.C. marches alone more than a million people took to the streets to voice their concern that our country is moving away from principles of governance that place the thriving of human bodies, minds and spirits before any other priorities. To me, this level of participation is an indisputable message from an agitated public declaring that “We the People are not asleep at our watch.” We are on alert, our eyes trained on those who are taking up the work of leading our country, and we are ready to intervene en masse, if necessary, when we see that human dignity, inclusiveness and rights are threatened.
On the packed streets of NYC I saw signs expressing concern about immigrant populations, our LatinX and Muslim neighbors, women and girls, women’s health, equality in education, health care for all, the rights and well-being of LGBTQ people, civil liberties, Black Lives, and our earth and environment. It was clear that it is the recent election that has jacked up the anxiety, doubt and mistrust in these three-million + people, but the concern is far more a moral and ethical one than a political one and far more about the health of our democracy and our calling as a nation than about any one leader’s fitness for the presidency or a cabinet post.
Participating on this day of public protest was a personal decision for each individual. I applaud those who chose to march, to speak out, and to weather the numerous physical and mental rigors of the day. I honor those who would have marched but were unable to for a variety of good reasons. And I honor also those who have a different analysis of our national situation and therefore chose not to participate. I encourage those of you in this last group to share your thoughts: write a newsletter article, take a lay-led service day, lead a workshop or a book discussion. We all stand to benefit from the perspectives of those who disagree with us, but we cannot learn from one another if we stay in our corners. If we cannot listen to one another speaking on any topic with respect, curiosity and openness to a shift in our own views, then our problem is not so much with “politics” in the congregation as it is with the capacity and strength of the “love” that binds us.
I believe in you, my friends.