Writing Out Loud

My Kind of Protest

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It didn’t take me long to realize that, if I tuned in to any of the major news networks yesterday, all I’d see was more footage of the Women’s March on Washington. Having grown up during the 1950’s and 1960’s, I saw coverage of similar events often on my parents’ little black-and-white TV set. Back then, people were protesting the Viet Nam war, segregation, or other issues that directly impacted their lives. But I was not able to put my finger on exactly why so many women thought they had to march on Washington and what they hoped to achieve. I still can’t.

Did they think that, if enough of them gathered together in various locales around the country, the new and much-hated president would be dethroned? His campaign rhetoric, shallow as it was at times, was touted as being one reason why women felt the need to protest. What were they hoping would change? And did it? Have the lives of all those women improved? Did they achieve what they set out to achieve in D.C., New York, Chicago, and Portland, Maine? And the question that is asked after all such events: what happens now?

During what little footage I watched, I saw lots of picketing signs being hoisted above the crowds, many of them bearing some pretty crude and mean-spirited slogans. The F-word and other expletives peppered many of them, and I had to truly wonder at the maturity of those who thought they were making a difference. If most of those protesters were there to rail against Donald Trump, then does it follow that their hatred also extends to all those who voted for him? That’s a scary thought, as it clearly indicates a country divided against itself, with half its population hating the other half for exercising what was clearly within their purview to do, which was to elect the candidate they deemed the most suitable. Thanks, but no thanks.

Even before this march, it was becoming less and less possible to have a decent civilized discourse with anyone and be able to walk away without having created an enmity or alienating someone. Less and less are Americans able to talk to each other without tempers flaring and walls being erected, and half the population places the blame for this solidly on one man who has no control over our individual actions whatsoever. If that’s not misguided and skewed logic, then I don’t know what is.

But aside from the current vitriol against that one individual, what were the other reasons for the march? I read somewhere weeks ago that it wasn’t an anti-Trump rally at all but built rather on many of the issues facing women and pretty much all of Americans today. I pondered this awhile and searched my soul to find a single motivating factor that might have compelled me to join that movement, and I came up empty-handed. And after running into another woman I know at the supermarket yesterday and hearing her take on it, I felt reassured that maybe I was on the right track in my own thinking.

“I don’t have any reason to march,” she said. “I have a comfortable life, and everything I need. And if I don’t, then it’s up to me to do something about it.” Now, this woman is not rich. Far from it. She is a neighbor of mine here at the senior community we both live in, and her situation is very similar to my own. So I was left to assess my life and see if there are any gaps that might have been filled by standing out in the cold and holding a sign decrying my current angst against whatever spectre might be overshadowing my life. And then it hit me: if something IS wrong in my life and I am at a loss as to who to blame, all I have to do is look in the mirror. And there staring back at me, replete with all its wrinkles, hanging flesh, and worry lines, will be the culprit’s face: mine. For I, like every other so-called rational adult in this country, am the sum and total of every decision I’ve made since I had the right to make them. The very idea of placing the onus of that truth on someone else’s shoulders is nothing short of ludicrous.

So please, someone, tell me what the point of all that was yesterday and what, if anything, was accomplished by it. The marches I remember from my youth all had specific goals in mind: stop a war or make sure that kids of all colors can go to the same schools. According to one co-founder of the recent march, its major goal was to bring to the forefront the ongoing struggle that is women’s lives. But what about life isn’t a struggle? And is that limited only to women? We struggle desperately to be born, we struggle as children when we first start school, we struggle to fit in, to find jobs, to make ends meet, to fill the oil barrel, to reach the finish line, to survive, and then in the end, we struggle against death. Struggle is endemic to the human experience, and not a single one of us, male or female, ever escapes it. Struggle is what shapes us, defines us, motivates us. Struggle is everything we must overcome each day to become better, stronger and wiser. For if we approach them maturely, it is overcoming those struggles that makes us stronger.

I struggle to get my taxes done on time, to open jars of pickles, to thread a needle, untangle Christmas lights, and to shovel the snow off my walk. I struggle emotionally when I’m waiting for the results of a medical test or when I think there is something wrong with my car that will cost me a small fortune to fix. Who should I blame for that, Trump? Congress? The Senate? The Pope? God? There IS no one to blame. It’s called life! And it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to get through it the best we can. Our Constitution assures us the right to “the pursuit of happiness.” Nowhere does it contain any wording to the effect that said happiness is guaranteed.

I happen to like the life I’ve created for myself. And I’d only be insulting my own intelligence were I to go out into the streets of any big city and rail against a force that it is entirely within my own power to control. I chose, rather, to stay home and to do those things that I hope will improve my life, make however many days I have left to me pleasant and productive.

I wonder what has changed…and was all that energy demonstrated yesterday sustainable? How might things have played out if all those hundreds of thousands of people who marched had turned instead away from that and, say, spent a couple of hours in a soup kitchen or a food pantry, visited some old lonely people in a nursing home who never get any company, volunteered at a shelter to spend time with abused and neglected animals, or read a story out loud to kids at the local library? Wouldn’t any of those also qualify as trying to ameliorate the struggle each and every one of us must deal with on a daily basis?

Imagine if all that people power had been redirected…and the innumerable acts of kindness that might have resulted from that. The only way to fight a perceived evil is by throwing lots and lots of love and compassion at it. And that is not what I got from what little I saw of that march. I saw, rather, lots of anger, rage, hatred, and ugliness, all antitheses to love. So I stayed home and wrote a small check to my local food pantry. It’s winter, and the struggle some people, many of them children, face to eat is real, as is the struggle to keep enough food on the shelves for them. There’s that word again: struggle.

I have no doubt whatsoever that my gesture, as small as it was, will indeed help reduce that struggle a little for at least one person. Now that’s the kind of protest I can relate to, the quiet unnoticed kind that produces results.

https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Lovejoy/e/B00JJ259DS

 

 

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Author: raelove1950

I've been writing personally and professionally for over 40 years, and recently started writing books for Amazon Kindle. During the last 25 years, I have also written for the Journal Tribune in Biddeford, Maine; the Maine Sunday Telegram in Portland, Maine; Current Publishing in Westbrook, Maine; and the Reporter, a weekly newspaper based in Waterboro, Maine. I recently released a book entitled "From the Urban Wilderness: Life in the Southern Maine Woods," which is a collection of essays taken from a weekly column I wrote for the Journal Tribune from 2010 to 2016. It is available from Amazon.com and CreateSpaceStore.com .

5 thoughts on “My Kind of Protest

  1. You and I see this situation the same. In fact – with the exception of shoveling snow, which we don’t have in Florida – we even shave the same struggles.
    I’ve been trying to figure out why so many people seem to hate Trump. I listen to what people say and watch what they do – if these don’t match, then I consider the person a villain (vs. hero) . When I put Trump’s questionable comments into their proper perspective, they made sense – I’m not saying they weren’t abrasive. Odd as this method of evaluation is, he comes up on the hero side. I can’t say that for many others.
    Whether we like it or not, he has been voted – and taken the vows – to lead our country, so they way I see it, the best thing we all can do is accept this. IF people are still this upset in 2020, perhaps they’ll get out and vote.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He, like all his predecessors, deserves the chance to prove himself. If he fails, so be it. I’ve always believed that performing good deeds close to home is the best way to offset some of the negative energy flowing around the universe, much of it concentrated in the U.S. right now. Hatred rarely solves anything, and I saw too much of it over the last few days to suit me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I totally agree and am praying he will be able to turn things around. The past few years concerned us so much that we felt the need to leave the US for a while and sail.
        Messed up as certain aspects of our country are, IMHO, the US is a vast improvement…. this explains why we have such a problem with illegal immigrants … and now, with the refugee situation, even legal ones.

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  2. I supported Bernie Sanders in this last election. I am not a fan of Pres. Trump. That aside, I worry that my daughters will see an erosion of their safety and their peace, given that so many Trump followers, at least in this part of the country, seem to let their fear have full reign. I’ve noticed more people are finding strength in knowing their rights as real Americans will finally be enforced by their “saviour” ( my wording). I have noticed that pro-Trump’ers have become more vocal in the work place and are glad their ideals will be enforced- their wording.
    Yes, I did march yesterday. It was a peaceful march of 50,000 here in Austin. There was some graphic signage, but there were more signs for human rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights, peace, kindness, lots of male marchers and supporters. I marched so my daughters will be treated humanely and with respect when they choose to breastfeed in public- knowing they have the right to do so and not be bullied into feeding my someday, grandchildren in a public toilet. I marched in the hopes that girls/women who are raped will not longer have their reputations shredded, publicly, and that the men will be held accountable for their own actions, no more of these violated women held responsible for the violence they suffer. When I hear men & women saying: well women already have these rights- I think , yes, but are they enforced ?
    We marchers were not violent- we just wanted to make our new President aware that we have real concerns about healthcare, peace, equality, education to include the arts, immigration and the treatment of immigrants. I marched so we , as a country and government would not move backward, in stead of forward. I hope to impress upon elected officials that they are the servants of the entire country, regardless of who votes and how. We Texas liberals are a different breed- we don’t “carry “at marches, we don’t burn symbols of our president as was done back in 2009. We are really kind and we volunteer our time in various ways. We just want inclusion and a voice.
    Those are my reasons for marching, .. mine, whether anybody agrees or not, that is what compelled me to march in peace. Not an anti-Trump on my part, but anti-hatred. again, just my opinion.

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    • I appreciate your taking the time to read my piece and commenting on it. The bottom line is that we must not be afraid to share our views, as different as those might be, and that’s where things are heading, which I find sad. I’m not sure I agree about “inclusion” and having “a voice.” I’ve never felt left out of any equation, as I am not averse to picking up a pen or turning on my word processor and dashing off an opinion to those in power. What other sort of “voice” is there if we don’t use the one we have? Far too many people decry their lack of inclusion when they don’t participate in any way at all until things come to a head and they feel that many voices will be heard more clearly than a single one. Not so. Right now, I am communicating with local leaders and agencies on a particular issue that impacts our area, and I am seeing good results. I didn’t have to march to do it, and I WAS noticed. The key is to not give up. Change happens from within, not without. And each quiet voice adds up in the long run, even if it’s just the one crying from the wilderness, which mine usually is.

      I’m also not sure what, if anything, will change as a result of the march, but I certainly respect others’ right to participate. My question at this point is, now what? Are you and all those millions of others willing to keep up the pace, write to your leaders, call them, email them, whatever it takes to get and keep their attention? That’s where this will be borne out, I think.

      Once again, thanks much for your thoughts and for sharing them. They are appreciated.

      Peace.

      Like

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