why we march and go to rallies...
Today we joined a "Sister" Rally and March as nearly one million women, men and children made their way to Washington, DC for The Women's March on Washington. (for more information, https://www.womensmarch.com/) Apparently there are over three million people engaged in 637 sister marches across the world, too. We were blessed to see friends and church folk in attendance - and had the privilege of sitting behind these two angels.
For many who have never been engaged in social activism for justice and compassion - and that would include millions of our sisters and brothers in multiple generations - being a part of a march and rally might seem like folly. I know that I have often been circumspect about joining in such events. And sometimes, in the grand scheme of things, there are better ways to use our time. But there are three essential strategic reasons why we march and make the effort to attend rallies like the Four Freedoms March and Rally in Pittsfield two weeks ago and today's Women's March on Washington:
+ First, our presence is a public witness of resistance. The vast majority of Americans do not support bigotry and prejudice. The overwhelming majority of our citizens did not vote for this President. And, the super majority of our neighbors want a homeland that is safe, loving and respectful for all people regardless of faith, gender, race or class. I believe this is true whether they voted for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton. There is an abiding generosity to the American people that historically honors justice and hope. Sometimes it is scrambled or confused by fear - or overt manipulation, too - and then our lesser angels reign down judgment and corruption on our dreams. We gathered today, however, to celebrate"an uprising of love" knowing that there is a better path for the United States to travel upon than the one Mr. Trump spoke of during his bitter inaugural address. We march and rally to offer an alternative of love and resistance to the way of hatred - and the fact that this rally was significantly larger than the inaugurations speaks volumes about this moment in time.
+ Second, our gathered presence helps others move into action. Being a part of a huge crowd committed to compassion diminishes isolation. So many of us mostly engage in social media communities that we don't know what it feels like to be embraced by sisters and brothers working for solidarity in the flesh. Rallies and marches (like public worship and some concerts) renew the human dimensions of love so that we no longer feel alone. As a number of people told me as they filled our Sanctuary two weeks ago for the Four Freedoms Rally on January 7: "I had no idea there were so many people who felt like I do! More than anything else, being in the presence of this new community has filled me with a sense of hope that I could never have imagined if I wasn't here in the flesh!" We march and rally to strengthen our souls in solidarity and overcome our fears with love.
+ And third, we gather together to practice living as part of the beloved community. This is neither sentimental idealism nor pious political hyperbole: these events, when they are well organized, are saturated in love and respect. People look out for one another here - and as we experience this caring community in the midst of strangers - we begin to sense how life could be lived. Rallies and marches are prefigurative encounters with the beloved community where we have one another's back, where there is a place at the table for everyone, and where we are encouraged to practice sharing by all so that there is scarcity for none. These events are about living into our highest values together and they are a living antidote to cynicism and sarcasm. We march together to become our best selves.
Now, after the marches and rallies, we must be engaged in disciplined action like calling our elected officials every day and helping them understand our support for love, justice, and compassion and why it matters. Still, there can be great value in simply coming together with like minded sisters and brothers in the flesh from time to time. I was blessed by being a part of today's rally - and I hope you were, too!
Last night, as Dianne was crocheting her "pussy hat" I wondered what difference this little symbol might make. And then I saw hundreds of women and men wearing them - we even passed her hat on to our buddy Andy who was coming into the rally as we were leaving - and it hit me: this was another, tangible way of creatively and lovingly sharing what we hold dearest. We are each unique and precious children of God who have been called to protect and cherish each and every one of us as family.