Thursday, January 26, 2017

Helen, I Am Ready

I’ve never been a very political person.  I read and listen to the news just enough to feel like I have a basic knowledge of what’s going on in the world.  I vote but I’ve never gotten involved in the political process other than the one time I put an Obama sign in our yard.  I’m not proud of it but I’ve just never been deeply knowledgeable about world and political affairs.  I stand back and assume everything will work out. 

And I’ve never been a brave person.  Not that I haven’t wished I was.  I’d like to think I could take a road trip by myself to go visit a friend.  Or drive up to the mountains to meet somebody for hiking or skiing.  Or drive myself to the Denver airport all by myself.  I tell myself I don’t do these things because I get lost so easily I'm surprised I even found my way out of my mother’s womb.  But the more likely reason is I’m just afraid to try.  I admire women who are not afraid to try new things; women who are brave.  I so wish I was more like them.  But I’m not. 

However, after I recovered from the despair and shock of Donald Trump’s election I decided I could no longer use fear as an excuse.  I have decided I can no longer stand back and assume everything will work out.  I accept the fact that he is now our President but I do not have to stand by and accept his lies.  I do not have to stand by and accept that what Donald Trump seems to care about most is Donald Trump.  I do not have to stand by and accept Donald Trump's misogynistic comments.  So when I heard there was going to be a Women’s March On Washington DC to stand up for women’s rights, I wanted to go.  Oh, I really wanted to go.  But I wasn’t brave enough to go by myself.  And I wasn’t brave enough to drive to the Women’s March On Denver by myself to take part in that one either. 

But because of Donald Trump's words and actions, Leslie also felt compelled to attend the Women's March.  And because Leslie is brave, she drove Emerson and Myra and I seven hours to Denver where we held hands and, together, we marched.  We didn't go to protest Trump's election.  We went to to stand up for women's rights and all human rights.  We went to show Emerson and Myra that they have a voice.  That they can stand up for what they believe.  That they can be part of the democratic process.  That they can make a difference.

We found our way to the starting point, Voorhies Memorial Pond in Civic Center Park, at about 8:30 a.m., an hour before the march was to begin. 

Riding the light rail to the march.

As we walked through the opening in the archway and saw there were already hundreds of people ahead of us my eyes welled with tears.  There were women of all ages, there were men, there were families, there were young girls, there were babies.  Some were carrying signs, some were wearing pink – hats, scarves, shoes, mittens – and everybody was upbeat and smiling and excited. 

Our starting point.  The center arch behind us was the beginning of the march.

We walked around a bit to keep our feet warm since it was only about 30 degrees but as more and more people arrived we finally had to find our place and wait for the march to begin.   The newspaper that morning had predicted 40,000 people would attend the Denver march.  We had no idea if we were anywhere close to that number because all we could see were the people around us.  So we hoisted Myra up on my shoulders and she took some photos of the marchers.  But still, we had no idea how to judge the numbers.

The time for the march to begin came and went.  15 minutes late.  Half an hour late.  We had no idea what the holdup was.  Had there been a delay in blocking off the streets?  Was the person who was supposed to lead the march late in arriving?  All we had to do was start walking, how hard could it be to give the signal to start?  Finally, about 10:15 a.m., 45 minutes after the march was scheduled to begin, we realized we were actually taking small steps forward and making progress. 

As we neared that central arch where the march began a volunteer yelled out that the march really HAD started on time.  It had taken nearly 45 minutes for us to even begin making forward progress because there over 100,000 people marching!  Almost three times more than the morning paper had predicted.  We walked through the opening of the arch and were met with a solid mass of people. 

Thousands and thousands of women, men and children chanting and waving signs.  They had completely filled the streets and sidewalks out front because there was no room for them where we had been waiting.  It was overwhelming.  The waves of emotion that I felt were indescribable and the tears that had only welled up in my eyes when we first arrived spilled out this time.  I could not believe my eyes.  I felt like I had found my tribe.  And it was liberating.  And I thank Donald Trump for giving me that most transforming experience. 

Photo from Denver Post on-line.

Yes, Donald Trump, I thank you.  I thank you even though I think you’re a buffoon who will make decisions based on advice from whoever who stroked your ego the most.  I thank you even though I think our country and the environment are going to suffer in innumerable ways from those decisions.  I thank you even though I cannot respect you, because you, Donald Trump, made me realize I can no longer stand back and do nothing.  You, Donald Trump, have forced me outside my comfort zone.  Yes, you, Donald Trump are making me brave. 



Art Elser said...

I applaud you, Cathy. Funny, but Kathy and I didn't march, but our daughter Barbara, her partner, and our grandson did. I saw the pictures from downtown and they were extraordinary, matched only by crowds when the Broncos won super bowls.

You shouldn't berate yourself for not having the courage to do things by yourself, Cathy. You and women your age weren't raised to be brave, only dedicated to doing what they were supposed to do as wives, mothers, grandmothers. Pat yourself on the back for having raised a daughter who does have the courage you wish you had. That is a magnificent achievement. I suspect many women who voted for the Donald did so because their husbands told them how to think, act, vote. You've achieved something wonderful, brave children who will dare what you are unable to and they share their bravery with you and include you in their bravery. And you have grandkids who will do the same.

Hooray for you, Cathy. You are my hero for your march.

Abby said...

Beautiful. Thank you for expressing what I felt when you encouraged me to be brave and join the women's march in Lincoln where the crowds swelled and tears welled in my eyes numerous times when I realized I wasn't alone. We can stand together and we can fight and we can make a difference because we can't accept the blatant disregard for civil liberties. Thank you for being brave.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I am full of tears after reading this. I am not able to accept that he is the president. I am hoping they find what they need to impeach him soon. I find it rich that Trump could Tweet about Franken, knowing about all of the women who came forward about him, and the Access Hollywood tape where he bragged about having his way with women.

I have not been much of a political person, either. I did go to the women's march in Lincoln, and have been to at least one to support DACA and people who have come here from other countries. I would rather there wasn't a need to.