March On

I have about two dozen girlfriends (and a few male friends) attending the protests in Chicago and DC this weekend. I am exceedingly proud of them and admire their drive to be heard, it’s valuable and important and the right to do, and is what this country was founded on. They are traveling good distances, knitting special hats, making signs, taking time away from families and coordinating in mind boggling detail. They’re rallying all over social media and sharing valuable information among each other, with the hum of a well-run beehive. I admire them so very much.

I will not be joining them.

I’ve spent some time thinking about why I’ll skip it and I still struggle to articulate that (and for some reason, I feel like I have to). I know that had this all been going on when I was 25, I’d be right there with them, no question. I remember once upon a time telling my mother that I felt I was born in the wrong decade and wished I could have a protest arrest on my permanent record.

But time has passed, I’ve learned more about the world we live in and the cycle of politics and ideals became complicated, there are a lot more grays than there were in my 20s. I know that my friends and the march are on the right side of history and history itself will show it, they are doing the exact right and necessary thing for the time we’re in. As I considered joining, I had a hard time understanding my own hesitation and to a point, still do. Or I just don’t like how it sounds.

Someone posted an article for the protesters about knowing their rights, making sure to keep important phone numbers written in Sharpie on their arms including the local attorney’s offices and emergency contacts, not to rely on cell service so have a backup plan to meet friends that may become separated, protect the head and neck, cover the eyes, linking arms can authorize beatings from authorities, don’t interlace fingers because it causes more damage to the head and neck…. wear thick shoes and pants in case of being drug across the ground…. stay on the fringes of the crowd…. don’t resist arrest… know how to fight detainment….wait, what?

Not only do I have a hard time with crowds, which goes for any crowd from concerts to packed family functions or bars that are too full, and I also have an old back injury that prevents me from walking for long periods at a slow pace without resting. But those reasons aren’t exactly why I’m not attending, either. During the last three years, I’ve invested in and joined my life with another person. I for the first time, have something to lose and it took a long time to find him so I tend to avoid situations that might endanger anything about our lives. Sounds selfish in the grand scheme, but it’s the most important thing I have and I guard it fiercely.

When I read the headlines and watch the clips regarding our soon-to-be “leader” (gulp), I always wonder if something similar has happened before (kind of) and if the situations were reversed and would my liberal bubble so vehemently question the reactions of the other side (likely). As much as I respect the New York Times, it does have an angle. I thought CNN was a good source until I realized they devoted 75% of their talk time during the campaign, to only one candidate simply because he was more entertaining rather than informative. I love NPR but they too have a side they tend to lean heavily into. All that to say, I can’t share social media posts and attend marches without acknowledging the complex agreements and problems presented to the public.

Sadly, our government is so beholden to lobbyists, large corporations, lined pockets, and special interests, that the truth of a thing seems mostly buried. The good guys and hearts of gold rarely win, or are drowned out by the louder minority. That sounds fatalistic and cynical, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why I’m not going to march. It makes me sad to think this way, perhaps I’ve let my general mistrust of politics, Chicago politics especially, get in the way of hope.

Bernie was hope personified and they made sure he didn’t get far enough to actually institute it in spite of igniting a country’s youth in a way not seen since perhaps Kennedy (and look what happened to him). The country repeatedly shoots down its better interests such as healthcare for all if not most, functional and practical maternity and paternity leave policies, banks run everything to disastrous consequences, credit ratings still somehow matter even after a recession, big agriculture and high fructose corn syrups ruin the health of children all the while medicines cost a fortune and people lose their homes over medical debt… see where I’m going with this?

So marchers, I applaud you. You are doing what you (we) know to be the right thing and that’s what the world needs more now. I don’t know what may come of it besides a united front and larger divide, even the people who voted for the winner that are regretting their decisions are not likely crossing enemy lines anytime soon, but maybe if only one person sees things differently it can be considered a success.

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