Sunday, January 22, 2017

Reflections from a Non-Marching Woman

So, maybe it's how I'm wired - I'm not really sure - but I am not of the opinion that large-scale marches are effective. I feel like activism is more effective in smaller, life-impacting, more personal doses. The concept of a small viral contagion growing and spreading - but more of the positive than the negative. Meetings, conversations, small acts of kindness, respectful debates - those avenues (and ones similar) have always seemed more effective to me.

For example: My cousin was at the march in Washington yesterday. He posted a video of a guy there giving out free hugs. THAT is the kind of activism I'm talking about - small acts of kindness that know no boundaries. Are you a woman? Have a hug. Are you non-white? Have a hug. Are you white? Have a hug. Are you LGBTQ? Have a hug. Do you have a disability, either visible or silent? Have a hug. Are you a person? Have a hug - no wait, have 2 hugs. Are you a person who is also walking a dog and may I pat your dog on the head or scratch your dog under the chin? Have a hug.

We need more free hugs. At the mall, street corners, hospitals. Just cheerful people in open spaces giving out hugs in a non-creepy, just happy-go-lucky way.

Anyways - it's gotta be how I'm wired. It really does. But marching-level activism just isn't my cup of tea. I am more likely to figure out how to be active in my sphere - and in my immediate sphere, I have a daughter that we are teaching and raising to know that she can be and do WHATEVER she sets her mind to, whatever she feels passionate about (and those who know Evie know that I probably couldn't hold her back even if I wanted to). We are teaching both of our children that kindness, love, helpfulness, compassion are the hallmarks of being a human and that UNCONDITIONAL love are what being a Christian is about. We do not judge others, we do not act in unkind ways, we do not bully, we do not hate. We repent when we hurt others and we forgive when we are hurt.

Having said that...

The level of solidarity that was displayed yesterday cannot be overlooked, no matter that others may try to do or say. There were no reports of violence (that I saw), and it was exactly what we expect peaceful protesters to do - even if just seeing the crowds in pictures made my anxiety level go up to a thousand, it's amazing to think that so many people of so many different background came together to stand up for what they believed in.

But - If the argument is that 3 million more people voted for Clinton than Trump, then why wasn't it more? Where was this energy 6 months ago? Why wasn't there more outcry as scandal after scandal was unsurfaced within the DNC? People took to social media - a medium that frankly has become so numbing to people that they just unfollow those who overpost political arguments they don't agree with. It's rather uneffective anymore. I saw some video of Hilary rallies - the energy looked like milk-toast compared to the energy level of a Trump rally. It was like golf claps versus a Raiders game. Seriously. This is coming from someone who could not get behind either major candidate - I just was shocked at the differences in the energy of the supporters.

So all of that to say: I hope that this level of peaceful protest and activism can be lived out daily in the lives of every American. A great way to changes lives is to be a change in the life of someone else. Maintain that energy, because there's midterm elections in 2 years and another presidential race in 4. I think that part of the reason that Trump won - honestly - is because we didn't see that level of energy from those who opposed him until it was too late. No one protested until after he won because everyone was convinced that Hilary was going to win, that it was in the bag. Then election night happened - and whether we agree with it or not, the electoral college is how we are set up to operate. It's not going to change any time soon so we need to work with what we've got as far as that goes. If you want to make a difference in someone's life, if you want to actually sway someone's opinion - you need to be in their life as well as in their newsfeed. You need to have that energy before it's too late. Those of you who attended rallies yesterday worldwide and posted pictures talked about the impact of seeing other people come together and the positivity and desire for love and equality and non-judgement that was displayed.

That energy can NEVER be felt in a social media newsfeed. You HAVE to get out there. You HAVE to be the change.

Let this be a starting point. The system isn't going to change any time soon and those who want change need to be active within the system. Find a life, change it. We fear what we don't understand (and yes, that's from a Garth Brooks song... in fact... let me close out with a direct quote...)

"The only answer to the problem is people loving people. That's the enemy of everything that's evil. Ain't no quick fix at the end of a needle, it's just people loving people."

Keep up the energy, keep it PEACEFUL, keep it RESPECTFUL, and be the change you want to see in the world EVERY DAY. Don't wait until it's too late. Be "we the people", don't be "we the newsfeed".

That, after all, is what makes America great.

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