This is the upside of the downside. This is an outpouring of democracy like I’ve never seen in my very long life.
– Gloria Steinem
It was a foggy, rainy morning today here in Washington, DC. I dropped my wife at a friend’s house before they assembled with others at a local church to be shuttled to the Washington Mall in busses provide by Maryland Representative Steny Hoyer (who also happens to be the House Minority Whip). They would add their bodies and voices to the hundreds of thousands of women and men who had assembled there in a call for universal human rights, civil rights, and gender equality. Although the primary goal of the march was to show solidarity on these key issues, it was also an orderly groundswell protest against the xenophobic policies and comments of a new president and the ill-advised and dangerous direction in which he wants to lead this country.
I had hoped to join in the march, but with the ever expanding schedule of events and speakers, and an extension of the original march route, I soon realized my back and hip would never hold up. But I was there in spirit, listening to live streamed speeches throughout the day while checking out all the photos and texts being posted on social media platforms. It is too bad the weather was not more cooperative, but it did not prevent the messages from getting though loud and clear. This is my personal contribution to that effort.
And they were not marching just here in Washington! There were reports of over 600 “sister marches” across the nation. I have friends who were marching in New Hampshire and Maine . . . in Florida, Chicago, Toronto, Montréal. Cincinnati, Denver, and New Orleans. They also marched in Seneca Falls, New York, in Helena, Montana . . . and in Berlin, Germany. There were marches in Mexico, Australia, London, Paris, and Capetown. Too many to list here (see map). They were even joined by a small international group on board an expedition ship in Paradise Bay, in Antarctica. Voices were raised across the planet since the demand for universal human rights and gender equality are global issues, not just American ones. And these are not just women’s issues. "We cannot all succeed,” Malala Yousafzai tells us, “when half of us are held back." Women and men were marching together in solidarity. And isn’t this the way it should be? We are all in this together. We will all suffer if we are not heard and respected.
What happened today here in Washington and across the globe cannot end today. “The end is not near,” film maker Michael Moore told a reporter. “The beginning is near.” But there is still a great deal of work left to be done. It will not be easy; it will be a constant struggle. That said, however, it is no Sisyphean ordeal. Gloria Steinem hit the nail on the head. "The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving." Let’s ALL keep moving forward, pushing forward . . . even if it is an uphill battle at times.
Tonight the streets of Washington are quiet again, but the demands for a commitment to universal human rights, to gender equality, as well as for economic and racial justice . . . for everyone . . . will continue to echo far and wide . . . IF we continue to stand in solidarity with one another. To quote Ms. Steinem again in conclusion: “Whenever one person stands up and says, ‘Wait a minute, this is wrong,’ it helps other people do the same.“
Check out the "Looking Toward Portugal" Facebook page for more information and photos.