On Day 2 of the Trump Era, which dawned with his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States, one in every one hundred Americans marched in protests across the country as part of The Women’s March on Washington and numerous sister marches. Around the world, as many as 5 million people marched in more than 650 events.
Trump and the Trumpsters then broke the internet complaining about crowd sizes and attendee numbers and ratings figures, doing whatever they could (including inventing new terms—e.g., “alternative facts”) to spin the news in their favor. Because, as far as Trump is concerned, size does matter.
We could go on and on about the numbers + alternative facts thing. The inanity surrounding that discussion might well be more important than it seems on the surface. But, today, let’s tackle the marches and the marchers.
Here in Chicago, about 50,000 marchers were expected; some reports indicate as many as 250,000 actually came. I can attest to the fact that it was literally wall-to-wall people. Standing on Jackson Drive just east of Michigan, it was nearly impossible to move, so packed was the street with protestors from all walks of life: women and men, children and adults, people of all races. The issues varied: women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, civil rights; access to healthcare; access to justice; climate change; immigration. It seemed as though everyone had his or her own issue.
As such, it may have seemed as though there was no real theme to the marches that took place from Washington, DC to New York to Boston to Chicago to Dallas to Los Angeles and beyond. It might have seemed as though there was no cohesive message, no overarching sentiment.
That might well be. But so what? Millions of people took to the streets on January 21 to resist what they see as the dawn of an era that demands resistance. Millions of people filled cities to protest hate and bigotry. Millions of people marched toward a future they want to see, a future that respects human rights.
I confess that, in this age of social media, at times the march in Chicago felt less like an exuberant exercise of unity with everyone marching in lockstep than it felt like tens of thousands of individuals moving in the same direction at the same time while playing with their smartphones. That’s the cynic in me. But even if people were making a point of proving they were there by posting and tweeting, they were, in fact, there.
They were there that day, Saturday, January 21. They were there that day, moving toward the future, a future in which women’s rights are human rights, a future in which millions of people will not sit silent while Trump and the Trumpsters drag this nation into an abyss of hatred and intolerance.
Whether Trump and the Trumpsters will hear in the footsteps of those many tens of thousands of marchers the call for change is debatable.
So we must keep making our voices heard.
One march on one day is a good start.
But it’s only a start.
We must keep marching toward the future.
Today in what feels like the Dawn of the Bizarro Age, it can be all too easy to feel like our voices aren’t being heard. It can be all too easy to succumb to frustration. But we must keep marching—figuratively if not literally.
What steps will you take toward building the future you want to see?
Will you keep marching?
Will you volunteer for causes that matter to you?
Will you donate funds to groups that make a difference?
Will you write/call/email your elected officials to let them know how you want them to vote on key legislation?
Will you help run campaigns for others who will run for office?
Will you run for office?
There’s much to be done, and there are many ways to keep marching toward the future. Whether you’re an introvert who likes to work toward change from the privacy of your own home or an extrovert who can’t wait to lead rallies, you can make a difference. There are countless practical ways you can not only resist what irks you but ways you can advocate for what’s important to you. Maybe they’re one and the same. Either way, now is not the time to let fear or frustration paralyze you.
The Women’s March has suggested ten actions to take during the next one hundred days. Some groups offer weekly actions to resist Trump and the Trumpsters. Activists have taken to providing full lists of ideas for ways you can move to action. You can pledge your intention to resist. You can participate in a day of action.
Maybe resistance is too much. Maybe full-fledged advocacy is too much. No worries: There is no one way to keep marching toward a better tomorrow. Practice kindness. Avoid making snarky tweets. Engage in civil discourse. Invite someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum to have a conversation with you. Look for the best in people instead of assuming the worst. Give someone a hug. Lift each other up.
But no matter what you do, do something. Only you can march toward the future you want to see. If you wait for everyone else to march toward the future, you might well find yourself in a tomorrowland that you don’t want to be a part of.
So let’s keep marching toward the future. Let’s practice kindness. Let’s lift each other up.
And let’s start marching toward tomorrow today.
Because we don’t have a day to waste.
Will you join me?