A woman stood by her truck taking pictures of the gathering crowd. She smiled proudly and waved to our group that was trying to take a photo without a selfie-stick – not an easy task. I jogged over to her and asked if she’d take our picture. She excitedly obliged. When I went to retrieve my phone from her, her dark eyes glistened as she handed me my phone and pleaded, “Walk for me, please. I have a bad hip, and I want so badly to march but I can’t. March for me.”
I stared into her beautiful, smooth, dark-skinned face while my friend gave her a hug and told her we’d absolutely walk for her. As I watched, I felt the enormity of her request. Yes. I would march for her. It was my HONOR to march for her and to carry her in my heart. Tears threatened to ruin my non-waterproof mascara as I hugged her and told her so. She hugged me tightly and I returned the squeeze. It was not a hug usually given to strangers, but in that moment, we knew we belonged to each other.
As I rejoined my group preparing to walk in the Women’s March, I told them what the older woman had asked of us and there was a collective noise of empathy, as we all understood what it meant to walk for her. And so we marched with people of all genders, ages, religions, races, ethnicities, abilities and sexual orientations… people who spoke different languages, people of different political persuasions, and people with different opinions on a million different things, but for one day we were united across the globe because we had learned or were learning how to see the injustices around us. We walked to show solidarity in standing up against all of the injustices, for all of the people, in all of the world, and it was everything it should have been – peaceful, beautiful, and filled with so much Love.
Now, I am not a person who ever feels the desire to attend rallies, marches or protests. I’m a behind-the-scenes kinda gal who feels like my time might be better spent having one-on-one conversations, empowering new leaders, or even checking things off of one of my six to-do lists. But in the weeks leading up to this historic day, I just kept hearing the question in my mind, “Would you have marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King, Jr?”
I’d sure like to think I would, and Dr. King’s famous words kept rolling around in my head, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” and so I proved it to myself. Yes. I would have marched. No, I will not be silent. I have a radical passion for all people. I want everyone to feel loved, worthy, valued, respected and safe, but I know they don’t. I can SEE the injustices that so many have faced and are currently facing, so I will SPEAK OUT.
My day continued to be amazing into the evening as my husband and I spent our date night at our favorite local brewery where we celebrated solidarity and action with incredible people who are each doing so much to change their own little corners of the world. The atmosphere was filled with love, encouragement and empowerment. I got so much praise for my work that it was both humbling and a bit mind-blowing. I didn’t know I made such a difference to so many people I admire and respect, and their words validated my calling and lifted me in ways they’ll likely never know. I ended the day empowered to continue my work, with a full heart.
After such an incredibly empowering day it was disappointing to see the response of so many friends and family who just didn’t get it and don’t care to understand what the day was about for millions of people around the world.
I’m not just disappointed that they can’t see what I’ve learned to see, though that’s part of it, but I’m growing into someone I never knew I could… someone strong, brave, with a growing confidence that I’ve never before possessed. I’m part of something so much bigger than myself that it can be both terrifying and exhilarating. So I’m sad that some of my friends don’t want to come along and grow too. It feels both like I’m not important enough to them for them to even attempt to understand, and simultaneously like I’m leaving them behind on the ground as I learn how to fly.
I marched this weekend with people who don’t want to leave anyone behind. I realize that I cannot force people to come along on my journey, but I can continue to tell my story and share the stories of others. Maybe one day my words will ignite a spark of understanding in others so that we can all fly together.