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viewpoint

Reflections on the Women’s March

| Monday, January 30, 2017

I attended two special events this weekend that were very meaningful and inspiring. On Friday (the day of Trump’s inauguration), Faith In Place hosted a vigil for our common home at their offices a block from Trump Tower in Chicago. Faith In Place is a diverse group of people from various faiths who have come together to share in a commitment to care for the Earth. During the vigil, we called upon elected officials to sustain sound environmental policies to preserve the Earth for future generations. We sang and prayed together and found comfort in the fact that all of us gathered there were from differing backgrounds and faiths, but we all shared common concerns and common goals for the future of our planet. The diversity represented at the event was what made it special; it was powerful to hear and join in the prayers from different faiths including Jewish, Hindu, Native American and Christian traditions. The oneness of all people, and even the oneness of all life on the planet, was acknowledged. The message is clear: We are all in this together and we must work to ensure that our leaders hear our voices as we speak in support of care for our Earth.

On Saturday, I marched with members of the Sierra Club in the Chicago Women’s March. This event was incredibly emotional and awe-inspiring. Michigan Avenue was a sea of people; approximately 250,000 women, men and children of all walks of life came together to voice a vast array of concerns in response to Trump’s unacceptable agenda. Sierra Club members in our group held signs calling for climate action and other environmental protections along with signs expressing solidarity with immigrants, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, Muslims and the Black Lives Matter movement. It was wonderful to see so many different kinds of Chicagoans marching in support of each other in such a respectful and kind manner.

Not all of the marchers shared the same causes, but we all respected each other’s right to be heard. We found common ground in our rejection of Donald Trump and his lack of respect for the environment, women, immigrants, people of color and even his lack of respect for the truth. This was such a high quality group of people that everyone even showed respect for the site of the rally by trying not to step on the grass. I felt honored to march among such a varied cross-section of American citizens and chanting along with them: “This is what democracy looks like!”

As a straight white woman I have benefitted from white privilege all my life, but I care deeply about others who have to deal with obstacles, discrimination, misunderstanding and even hate every day. I believe in an America that embraces diversity and defends the rights of all its citizens. Trump’s America is the antithesis of my concept of “what democracy looks like.” Now, after the march, the challenge will be to maintain this level of action and determination. The Women’s March was a great display of solidarity, but we must ensure that the event was not an end, but only a beginning. At least now we know as we go forward and face the challenges ahead that we have huge amounts of support as we work to reject Trump’s unacceptable policies.

There were so many creative posters displayed during the march, but perhaps my favorite was one that read, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change — I am changing the things I cannot accept!” As for me, I cannot accept a reversal of the policies that address climate change or the elimination of protections in place to preserve the quality of our air and water. I cannot accept the destruction of public lands so that they can be used to make oil and coal companies rich. I cannot accept the proliferation of the practice of fracking that jeopardizes sources of fresh water and destabilizes fault lines. I cannot accept a future for my children where they will not be able to enjoy the natural beauty of our Earth, its wild lands and its biodiversity. I am “fired up and ready to go” and I hope the passion and energy from the Women’s Marches continues to burn brightly for all of us as we face the challenges ahead.

 

Maribeth Meaux

class of 1983

Jan. 29

 

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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