The Women’s March in downtown St. George on Saturday, Jan. 21 electrified me. I saw friends and neighbors and made new friends, including a young sheepherder who had decided at the last minute not to bring her sheep to the march. She was afraid the dogs present wouldn’t take kindly to her marching sheep. I will assume she made the correct choice.
The march was the perfect antidote for the darkness that had fallen over me in the weeks leading up to the inauguration. With each of the new president’s tweets, I sunk deeper into the sad reality of what was to befall us. I watched the TV coverage of the ceremonies of Jan. 20 in fits and starts, in part to confirm for myself that our country had entered a new reality.
I needed that slap in the face, because frankly, I coasted through the last eight years. Though I didn’t agree with every decision President Obama made, I trusted that he was a principled leader, in step with and embodying the values that my America held dear. I no longer have such a leader, and I needed the jolt of the inauguration followed by the uplifting march to get me moving.
And moving is what we will do. My inbox is filled with invitations and exhortations. Join here, sign this petition, write these legislators. With each passing hour, more social media articles pop up in my news feeds. Read this: It’s important. In fact, for a few days, I was guilty of posting some of those myself. Knowledge is power, I reasoned, and I had a whole bunch of stuff to catch up on. Maybe some of my friends did, too.
The flood of behests had their desired effect. I wrote legislators about Planned Parenthood and the ACA. I wrote about the proposed nominee for the position of Secretary of Education, explaining my concerns about her bias for charter schools and private education. I wrote our state legislators about HB 11, which gives the majority party an even stronger chokehold on the legislative process.
Still, the flow widens and deepens. I’m now getting alerts that require my action before a certain time of day.
It’s only Thursday, and I’m drowning.
The need to act is deeply visceral. I get that. I suspect the urgency is being felt to varying degrees by all who share common beliefs. We are both empowered by what we have seen so far and fearful that if we allow one encroachment on our freedom go unchallenged, the entire ship could capsize before our eyes. Envision the Titanic and the iceberg of the new presidency. Disaster, as he would say.
But the pace. I can’t keep up.
Rather than feeling guilty, I’ve decided to pull on my big-girl pants. I can admit that I am a human being of a certain age and that my energy, although of an intense quality, is not as limitless as it once was.
One of the wonders of Saturday’s march was the wide age span of the marchers. The torch is being passed. Members of my generation burned our bras and marched against military aggression and in favor of equal pay for equal work. Our daughters, sons, and grandchildren seem more than up to the task of carrying the flame forward. Go them!
My place is no longer at the front of the crowd, if it ever was. But I can do this: I can identify those causes for which I have a special passion. They are homelessness, hunger, and health care. For these I can be, if not in front, at least closer to there than to the back. For other issues I support, I can follow the lead of those whose passion burns for them.
The resistance to the tyranny of the new president needs to be well thought out and wisely apportioned. While it is still in its infancy, now is the time for us to make smart choices about how and why and when and where.
This seems not to be a movement of confrontation but of peaceful counteraction. This is an energy that must be sustained for at least the next four years. Even if the new president gets bored and resigns, or even more likely gets himself impeached, the voices of compassion and respect for human dignity must not be silenced. Frankly, I don’t think there is much chance of that. Not after what I’ve seen, read, and experienced this week.
And finally, I vow to seek good ideas where they arise. Not every notion we have is a good one. Not every one they have is spurious. I will seek consensus, bipartisanship, and cooperation. This last one won’t be easy, but I am convinced that it is the only type of wave that will not upset the Titanic.
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