Why Wouldn’t I March? Why Didn’t You?

I grew up in a small town in central Nebraska, went out of state to college, work, and grad school, and returned to rejoin my family. Seven years ago, I started my own family here. I’m now an educator, a mom, a researcher, a wife, a small business owner, a student. I’m comfortable speaking up and speaking out. But I wasn’t sure I would march. I’m 38 years old, and I, like most of the others in this collection, had never engaged like that before. I am a lot of different things, but was I an activist, a protester?

 Eventually, I realized… why wouldn’t I march?

Why wouldn’t I march– if I believe that whether you’re LGBTQ, Muslim, refugee, black, immigrant, differently-abled, or female, you don’t deserve to be afraid. You don’t deserve to be treated, in the eyes of the law, the characters of Twitter, or the dismissive or derisive comments of lawmakers, as anything less than equal, whole, supported, worthy, respected, valued Humans.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I love this country, in a way I’m frankly only now discovering, as I watch the fundamental principles for which it stands being threatened and twisted through the words, actions, behavior or inaction of many who are supposed to represent us. Through a “travel ban”; through threats to the free press, the judiciary, the environment, funding for climate change and gun control research, affordable health care, public education and more; through support of waterboarding; through party-line votes and support for an unfit Secretary of Education, an unfit head of the EPA, an unfit Attorney General, to name a few.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I reject the painful, intolerant, objectifying words and regressive, intolerant, fundamentally un-American actions of President Trump, and anyone who condones or defends them.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I believe that physical and sexual assault isn’t funny, and comments about women being not being attractive enough to be assaulted make my stomach turn, make me feel inhuman and demoralized and outraged and unsafe and confused and scared for my 7-year-old daughter. If many lawmakers don’t seem to be outraged with me. If I honor the many strong survivors I worked with at domestic violence shelters, and their beautiful scarred strong children.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I believe that a woman’s health includes her mental, emotional, economic, and physical well-being. That she deserves the right and the respect to make her own intelligent choices about it, rather than be denied options by largely white male lawmakers who have no idea what it’s like to be her. That those who do become mothers, their co-parents, and their new babies, deserve paid parental leave from the richest country in the world.

We can do better. We must do better. We are better.

As my pastor used to preach, we’re called to “remove the chains of injustice, let those who are oppressed go free, share bread with those who are hungry, and shelter homeless poor people” (Isaiah 58:6-12).  Nebraskans will continue answer that call. We will monitor and advocate and vote and fight and use our “shrill” voices to push the city, the state, the country to deliver liberty and justice for all.

Will you?

I marched because, if we are our sister’s and brother’s keepers, I didn’t know where else I could be.

Why wouldn’t I march?

Why didn’t you?

My concerns for the rights of my fellow Americans

I marched because I wanted to hold a candle to the many issues clouding our American government.  I marched because I came of age in the presidency of Barack Obama, who taught me about hope, optimism, grace, and democracy.  I marched because of Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose unapologetic intelligence, toughness, and perseverance has inspired me since I was a high schooler in a small town where no one cared about politics.  I marched because I’m grateful for the rights I do have as an American citizen–and how I’ve never felt as patriotic as I felt on my first Election Day morning, casting my first vote for president for a woman (and knowing how much that moment would mean to my mother, my grandmother, and my 105-year-old great-grandmother).  I marched because all of the people above have inspired me to attend law school in the future and I wanted to view this nation’s democracy at work.  I marched because I’m worried for the future of our world.  I marched for myself and my rights as a woman, but my concerns about my own rights are heavily outweighed by my concerns for the rights of my fellow Americans.  I marched for every woman I know, women and people of color (because BLACK LIVES MATTER!!!!), for trans women whose existence is ignored far too often by feminists and others alike, for immigrants whose existence alone is a positive contribution to the framework of this nation, for Muslims who shouldn’t have to live in fear, for everyone I know who is LGBTQ+ (because LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE), for the water protectors and to say NO to DAPL, for our planet because science is real, for the rights of people with disabilities, for an end to systemic gun violence, mass incarcerations and police brutality, to save our nation’s healthcare, for a free press, for the refugees who just need a hand, and for everyone who makes up this already great nation, even those who believe a Women’s March and protesting are unnecessary.  I marched because I may be young now, but someday I’ll have grandchildren.  I marched because someday they will ask me how I could have let such backwards, hateful rhetoric happen.  I marched because I want to be able to say to them with my whole heart and without misgivings, “I didn’t.”

Because I love our country

I marched because I love our country, and I value truth and freedom. Not even a week into his term, our new President has lied repeatedly; denied the press access to him and his administration; has silenced entities and organizations that disagree with him; is frighteningly unable to discern between the trivial and the important when attacking those who disagree with him (and he personally attacks citizens of the United States who disagree with him); and is destroying advances we’ve made in women’s/immigrants’/minorities’ rights, religious freedom, science education, affordable health care, environmental issues, and equality issues facing minorities. I value what rights we have in this country, and I’d like to preserve and expand them–not contract them. Women’s rights need to continue to grow and expand, and I believe the current President will not only fail to advance women’s issues (access to affordable health care and services, equal pay for equal work, affordable/reliable child care, educate legislative bodies/judges/attorneys about the rape culture in our society that gives the perpetrator every advantage, and many others), he’ll turn back the clock on the painstaking progress we’ve made.

We’re paying attention

Social bonds. To be an example for my children. To feel less alone in a “red state”. I marched for women’s equality, for black lives, for immigration, for clean water, for equal rights for fathers, for public schools, for free press, and to show the elected members of this state, and our president/administration, that we are HERE. We’re paying attention. We’re watching how you vote. We will not be silent. We won’t forget your actions come election time.