I didn’t march because of a family obligation but I have often thought about why I would have. Many years ago I sat in a car, traveling across Nebraska with my aunt. Conversation had revolved around varied subjects but now settled on politics. She asked me what I thought about some current issue. I shrugged. I had grown up in a small town in the Black Hills of South Dakota. My mother was Democrat, my father was Republican. I can, maybe, remember one isolated instance of hearing them discuss politics. When I turned 18, I registered as a Democrat. I voted in every Presidential election….but I paid very little attention to politics. It wasn’t cool, it wasn’t comfortable, it took too much energy to try to understand it all.
In light of my conversation with my aunt, let me tell you something about the women of family. I come from a long line of wise, strong women with an undefeatable spirit. They crossed the ocean to a new, unfamiliar land filled with hope and, I would imagine, a little trepidation; but they didn’t let that stop them. They crossed the plains and forded rivers in covered wagons with children in tow filled with hope and a little trepidation; but they didn’t let that stop them. They lived in dugouts, built homes of raw timber, planted crops, raised livestock while raising a family with hope and a little trepidation; but they didn’t let that stop them. They raised families, took care of finances, found work outside of the home or took in washing while their husbands, brothers, sons fought in WWI, WWII, and Vietnam. They raised families while attending colleges and universities to become teachers, journalists, nurses, entrepreneurs with hope and a little trepidation; but they didn’t let that stop them.
So, when my aunt gently rebuked me for not being appraised of current political issues I didn’t take it lightly. She reminded me that it is my obligation as a citizen to pay attention because politics, in many ways, shape our lives. It is also my obligation to pay attention because of all the women who came before me that weren’t allowed to enjoy the same privileges that I enjoy.
If I would have marched, I would have marched for all those strong, wise women with an undefeatable spirit that took on life and an ever-changing society with hope and a little bit of trepidation that didn’t slow them down. I would have marched for women who came long before me and wagered everything for my privilege to vote. I would have marched for the women who fought for my right to choose when I start a family. I would have marched for the people who have fought for my friends and family in the LGBTQ community to openly love who and how they love. I would have marched for clean air, fresh water, and National Parks that give us respite and remind us how we are connected to Mother Earth. I would have marched for the marginalized whose voices can’t be heard. I would have marched for equal pay for equal work, for affordable health care for all, for immigrants, for refugees, for Muslims, for my black brothers and sisters who “can’t breathe” and are raised knowing that at some point in their lives they will face racism in some form. I can’t possibly list everything. The gist is this….we have come so far. We have come so far but we still have so far to go. We have come so very far and we must NOT allow a step back.
We are facing something entirely new an unprecedented in our country. With all of the wise, strong women with an undefeatable spirit from my past, my present, and my future standing with me I plan to move forward with hope, and a little bit of trepidation. But I don’t plan on letting that stop me.