"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Thoughts on the Oklahoma Women's March

    


On Saturday, January 21, 2017 peaceful marches were held in many large cities in the United States and around the world.  Participants had the proper permits from their cities and followed all the laws; they were completely peaceful.  It is within our rights, as citizens of the United States of America, to gather together in public places to either protest something we disagree with, or in support of something we feel strongly about that may need bringing into the public eye. It is altogether fitting and lawful to do this.
     I have participated in other marches over the years; some of them were protests and some of them were informational rallies, meeting together in a public place to listen and learn more about the true facts of specific situations.  At all permitted rallies, protests and marches, there are police in uniform present on the edges of the crowd as well as interspersed among the crowd, some in plain clothes. They are there to keep the peace and let the people have their voice, exercising their guaranteed freedom of speech. 
       Unfortunately, there are also people who show up at such gatherings for the sole purpose of stirring up trouble: the agitators. They are often neither for nor against the cause being represented; they like to make trouble, pure and simple.
     If there were troublemakers present at Saturday's march in OKC, I didn't see or hear them. That doesn't mean they weren't there; the police are very good at spotting troublemakers and quietly removing them from the area without causing a scene if that is possible. I always feel safer when I see there are police standing guard.
     This was a complicated event because it pulled its participants from many different groups:

1. Anti-Trump protesters: Many people, including myself, were disgusted and appalled at the disrespectful speech and tone used about and toward women, minorities, and immigrants by President Trump in his campaign, and feel that he is supremely unqualified, in both temperament, education and experience, to hold the office of President of the United States. 

2.  Minorities: There were many people-of- every-color represented both at the march and as speakers after the marching part. They had strong, positive, moving things to say, and said them without getting out of control or yelling hate speech. They spoke intelligently about the issues and put forth practical ideas and options for how to stay active in support of these causes going forward. 

3.  The LBTG community, men and women who want the freedom to love whomever they choose to love, was represented in the march and on the speakers roster as well, and they too spoke intellligently and calmly about the dangers they have always felt in this state and the fears they have for the coming years, due to this particular administration's negative stance on their personal gender choices.

4. Pro-Life and Pro-Choice people were well represented at the march and did not get into shouting matches or lose their tempers. Everyone walked together in unity, speaking peacefully and carrying signs for their personal cause.

5.  Many U.S. Veterans were part of the marchers and spoke to me about how proud they were to be standing up for the rights and freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution, which they had taken an oath to protect and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic. (They were especially happy to see that I had brought the Stars and Stripes to the march, as a symbol of those rights and freedoms.)

     You see what I mean by a complicated event. All of these groups and more (there were lots of fathers there who were marching in support of the rights of their daughters) came together not only in OKC, but in cities all across the world, to speak their disapproval of the direction in which this administration looks to be moving. I was amazed at the tolerance and peacefulness of the day, and it was a long day.  People were very patient and courteous with each other and spent time talking with and listening to strangers from all over the state, trying to understand each other; making community the old fashioned way.
     I was deeply honored to be there with my daughter, her daughter, and many friends, and to see pictures of family members and friends from all over the world popping up on social media, sharing news of the marches in their cities. 
      I have received many questions, from people I have known and from students I taught in school, about why we marched. They wanted to know what we think we accomplished. They seemed to think we were simply angry about our candidate losing the election. It is much more than that. What did we accomplish?
      We accomplished standing up for what we believe is right and honorable: the rights and freedoms granted to us under the United States Constitution. We accomplished speaking truth to lies and letting the world (everyone who knew about the marches or saw pictures or videos of them, or read about them in the papers or on the internet) know that we will not be silent in the face of hatred, discrimination, persecution, bullying, shaming, and all manner of injustice that we see, and have seen, happening in this country recently.

     We believe that to stand silently and not speak out against what is unjust, dishonorable, and harmful to ourselves and others is to give consent to those things. We will not give consent and we will not be silent. I am reminded of a line from Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton, An American Musical:
   "...I may not live to see our glory, but I will gladly join the fight, and when our children tell our story they'll tell the story of tonight."  Those speaking that line were Sons of Liberty, organizing a revolution against oppression. I feel we are doing the same thing.
     I am acting, speaking, marching, becoming politically active, and standing up for this cause for these two, and for my other daughter and her sons, for baby Alice only one week old, and for all the students I ever taught and loved.
       We were raised by the men and women of the "Greatest Generation", those who endured the Dustbowl, the Great Depression, and World War II. They instilled in us a fierce patriotism and we love this country, and the rights and freedoms upon which it was founded with a burning passion. America's survival is too dear to our hearts to let these freedoms and rights, guaranteed to every citizen, be swept away at the whim of an mentally unstable man in a position of power.


     

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