But I wanted to start this blog addressing the elephant in the room (I do lurve elephants, but that's not connected to this post!). And that's the criticism that rallies don't do anything, they are pointless. I want to put aside the really stupid and ignorant comments like Women's Marchers are running around naked (<-actual comment from someone on my Facebook, we're not in the 60's kids, and even then I don't think bra burning = running naked on the National Mall #justsaying)....and I want to put aside my typical reaction which is "haters gonna hate, ainters gonna ain't" (courtesy of the movie I got cyberattacked by North Korea over and am proud to have part of prevailing in the face of terrorism #freespeechrepresent). I'd like to spend a minute and focus on the root of what they are saying. They are ultimately questioning whether protests and marches are a valid way to lead to real change.
If any message has been pounded on the liberal/progressive side since 11/9, it has been that we're in an echo chamber. That we do not listen, we don't understand the economic ravaging of rural America, that we do not speak for "real" Americans. But the media is a filtered version of everyone's reality, and an increasingly, insanely skewed one at that (I will save the actual problem with fake news for later). For example, in microcosm, how do you square there being clearly over 100 people (see my video on Twitter) with a report by my local Denver Fox affiliate as "dozens" with a weak photo of 1/5 of the crowd? It's inaccurate and bias. The media is a funnel in which the news pops out with biases.
In a polarized world we are looking for something, but I'd like to differentiate once and for all. There's a HUGE difference between looking for media that validates your position or self-soothes you on your views...and the search for truth with a scout mindset. People have labeled some news outlets as liberal because they often support the liberal and progressive side in op-eds and so forth, but that just politicizes and polarizes. The fundamental issue I have with outlets like Fox News or even Breitbart is not that they are championing a conservative viewpoint, but that they are entirely unleashed from facts and from the search for truth.
So how do we combat this?
We have to create our own filter to counteract the one that already exists, and it starts with the source. People do not question the source of the news they receive. It's gotten to such a state that I've watched commentators openly argue about supporting policy positions because of how the voters "feel" when it clearly contradicts facts. They balm their sense of self by listening to media that agrees with their point of view and become soldiers of that point of view, as evidenced by Drumpf lauding Fox News for its coverage of him on multiple occasions. And since liberals lost the Electoral College, and 2016 culminated years of effort resulting in a state-level trouncing, that one fact alone without context would suggest that we're in need of adapting. We're the ones who are out of touch with America and need to normalize to the Trump Administration. Right?
Wrong. Here's what it comes down to. First, you have to ask about the integrity of your position. When it comes to my position, I know I am fighting for principles this country was founded on: e pluribus unum, we the people, equal justice under the law. I am protecting gains that were fought and bled for by the giants who came before me. Advances in civil rights, reproductive rights, voting rights, environmental protection, poverty reduction, healthcare access for all, separation of church and state and welcoming waves of immigrants and refugees. The United States has not been perfect towards these aims, but we have continued towards them like north stars as we form a more perfect union.
I march because in those moments, surrounded by all those thousands of people, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people, I don't question whether together we hold bedrock American values and morals. It's when I come back to my computer, to my literally virtual reality, that pessimism creeps into my views and that I start to falter in the audacity of hope. I read the news stories which are a purposeful onslaught to my view of our country. They assault my eyes and ears and sensibilities. They make me wonder at the decency of my fellow Americans - the Customs & Immigration people who enforced Drumpf's EO by putting a 5 year old and elderly people in handcuffs. The literal purchasing of the Secretary of Education's cabinet position by Devos. The hate crimes of awful graffiti towards Muslims, Jews, minorities, women. We are rising above, but this rising takes energy. We cannot sustain this energy on our own.
When I march, I am part of a moment that is clearly part of a larger movement. The resistance. The popular majority Americans that refuse to live by the terms of the Drumpf Administration, who refuse to be bullied by the indecent decisions of an unpopular minority nativist platform signed into Administrative code by a small-handed and under-minded narcissist.
I come back from the Women's March and my subsequent rallies to lace up my shoes and take on the rest of the activities - the impactful ones mind you - and find that I am by myself or in small groups. I call my Congresswoman or my Senators. I donate to NRDC, and Planned Parenthood, and Earthjustice, and Sierra Club, and ACLU and Nature Conservancy. I volunteer with the Sierra Club. I do the daily do's of my many Facebook activist secret & closed groups. I learn about in district lobbying and phone banks. These are all the very unsexy parts of mobilization. The dogged ways in which power really will be wielded in the future.
The seeds planted today that will become a mighty oak in years, but damn is it hard to keep the faith when you can't see that seed in the ground anymore and it's not yet a seedling.
These are dark times. If anyone is sugar-coating this fact for you, try to talk them out of such a position if they are on our side (if they are not on the side of the resistance, I recommend disassociating for your own well-being). My sign at the Women's March said Never Forget 11/9 with incredible intention and purpose. The day after the election was a day that I will never forget. And as sad as its converse was - 9/11 - I was at a loss as an American but not at a loss as personally 16 years ago. The results of this past election were incredibly personal and therefore incredibly devastating. I have dedicated my entire educational and professional career towards sustainability and diversity. The minority of Americans who won Drumpf his Electoral College indicted the environment and indicted diversity. On that day, at my moment of greatest weakness, people on Facebook decided to poke me in the eye about my hubris, my pride, my ego, my lack of clarity. And a few even chose to poke me in the eye while dancing and celebrating. Laughing at posts of its impact on me. Mocking my pain.
There is nothing to celebrate in Drumpf's view of America. He sees the worst, he is unleashing the worst, and he is enacting the worst policies in my lifetime. Thanks to comedy news shows I get to laugh about his unsettling similarity to Batman villains Joker and Bane. But at the end of the day, particularly when I'm all by myself with my news websites and Facebook, my belief in the goodness of my fellow Americans loses its luster.
I march to keep that flame alive. I march to renew my own spirit and to restore my faith in the goodness of my fellow Americans and the values we share of equality, inclusion, and justice. I march so that the Statue of Liberty can stand tall for generations to come. I march so that we reclaim our status as a beacon on a hill. I march so that the losses we incur today will fuel the progressive juggernaut that will steamroll over the Republican spineless and heartless platform for decades to come.
We shall overcome. But only if we keep marching.
Forward together, not one step back.
One of my favorite chants is also one that gives me the greatest hope. "We are unstoppable, another world is possible". Let's be unstoppable, shall we?
The resistance is a mindset.
It must be actively maintained and nurtured.
In-person is my most direct-to-the-vein form of restoration.
Find what keeps you going in this resistance.
Bottle it up.
Keep doing it.