Finally Showing Up

And Still We Rise-16

I show up this morning with failure on my mind, humility in my heart, and regret in my march.  I did not show up all these years. That failure is ringing loudly in my ear.  How is this my first time exercising the right to protest?  The regret within me responds with each step I take.  I am white.  I am heterosexual.  I am afraid.  I am lacking in empathy.  I am complacent.  I am disobedient to the teachings of my faith.  I choose to be these things no more.  And the self absorbed myopia melts into the pavement as I join the rhythm of the march.  With one voice raised in opposition to the rise of the Trump era of unkindness and authoritarian leadership, we declare an unwillingness to accept the normalization of the words he actually speaks.

We know.  We know this true.  Several muses through the ages have made this point…

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your habits,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny.” *

Fear is the emotion that awakens us.  Anger is the emotion that unites us. Love is the emotion that grounds us. Hope is the emotion that motivates us.  But hovering above our collective emotion, are the better angels of our nature.  They guide us as we seek to actualize justice in this moment.  In this day.  In this era.

Hate must not win.  Love can drive out fear…if we show up and stand united against the misappropriation of power.  We are here.  This is real.  The we that are gathered here are as varied as can be.  We will not stand by to see our fellow Americans shutdown, shutout, or shouted down for being other.  We will not stand by while a president elected to represent our interests amplifies nationalism and separatism from the podium during his very first address as President of the United States.  We are not silent.  The world is not silent.  The we on every single continent rises up to greet such tyranny with a loud undeniable opposition.

And then I come home.  I am confronted with response.  The numbers are much higher than anticipated. I feel the weight of this moment in history.  So many showed up. Woke up.  Spoke up.  No arrests, no rioting.  I begin to hear devaluing, confusion, opposition to our opposition.  I listen.  We did not need permission to march and the act of marching in solidarity is all the statement that is needed.  It is our right.  The act of the march was not designed to exclude, but I hear some felt left aside.  Being the other is frightening, saddening, angering.  We are crystal clear about that. I long for us to come together.

I lay my head down for rest.  I cast gaze towards what can be.  Tomorrow can be our best moment ever.  Hope swells inside of me, bursting into my dreams as I drift off to slumber.  May today’s action create space for tomorrow’s equality.

* The origin of this quote is disputed.  Some version of these words have been credited to Margaret Thatcher, Frank Outlaw, Gandhi, and multiple other spiritual leaders. I have chosen to add uncredited because I cannot trace the original author and have concluded this truth stands on merit.  Essay police, I beg mercy.*