I’ve always been skeptical of rallies and protests. Growing up, I saw them as an insufficient means to make change. I didn’t understand people dedicating time to chant along with a crowd. I struggled to make the connection from groups of people rallying or marching in the streets to the realization of the change they desired to take place.
I also didn’t see a place for myself in the bold stances rally and protest participants often take. As I grew into the person I am today and work towards becoming the person I want to be tomorrow I am beginning to see them differently.
As I see it now, these events are about joining together and about building the hope and confidence of individuals for when it is necessary to stand alone. It’s not every day we can rally in the streets; we must commit to doing the work in our own neighborhoods even if that sometimes means standing alone.
Going into today my skepticism lingered but I knew I was ready to take part in the Women’s March on Chicago. Here’s how it went:
As I march…I am surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people. People who share similar views and are ready to stand up for their rights. Women’s rights. Human rights. And I love it.
As I march…I see the two or three peaceful counter protesters with their own megaphones and signs. The crowd responds with peace signs and smiles. I am reminded that, while I am joining with millions of beautiful humans around the country and around I world to march, there are millions of other people that oppose what I believe. And that is their right to do so just as it is my right to march.
As I march…I look up to the clear blue skies and feel the warmth of the sun on my face. I look around and see a few knit hats and some idle salt trucks—the only signs that it is the middle of January. At 62 degrees, it feels like a cool summer day.
As I march…I reflect on the countless hours myself and many others spent this fall promoting democratic candidates across the country. More than ever I am grateful for the opportunity to go door to door and talk to supporters, opposers, disenfranchised voters and people everywhere in between. The personal stories of my fellow citizens—strangers to friends—kept me hopeful for a better tomorrow. In the faces around me I see the hope that I felt throughout the campaign. I see the hope and the devastation that I felt on election day. I am recharged for the work ahead.
As I march…I am reminded that change is made by large groups of individuals and individuals themselves. We can find commonality despite the diversity of our lives. We can disagree on how to get where we are going but we can agree that the future will be better for us all if we walk together on the journey.
Because I marched…I am reminded of the power of being a part of something bigger than myself. I am reminded that there is hope in the future of our democracy as long as we continue to take a stand.