I spent the first full work day of our new president’s term in my pajamas scanning social media and news outlets, exhausted after my trip to DC where I joined a few other people to make sure he was aware we have expectations of his administration. Because even though I didn’t vote for him, he is still my president.
All that surfing prompted me to share my thoughts on the backlash against the march I saw online. I won’t continue that discussion here (but go check out that post!). Instead, I want to share some additional thoughts that have been bubbling around this week as I have looked back on the trip.
Thanks for the nudge, Mr. Trump!
One of the things that struck me as I spoke to people at the march was how many had never marched or protested before. People were becoming activists right before my eyes! When you ask many women to name an activist for women’s rights, they might mention Gloria Steinem, Margaret Sanger, Daisy Bates, Malala Yousafzi, Shirley Chisolm… at least, these are names I know. We have heard of the work of these women (and so many others), but that work was all done “back then”. I was born in the 1960s, and by the time I was a teenager, many of the freedoms I enjoy were written into law. But now, I am joining these women and getting activated.
Not everyone was happy with the way the march was planned, or its stated mission/vision and unity principles. Certainly, it is a difficult task to try to motivate the numbers of people who were being asked to participate in the march and be sure to cover everyone’s concerns and make them all feel represented. But in the end, there were approximately 500,000 people in DC last Saturday – which beats the organizers’ estimate in weeks leading up to the event by about 300,000. I guess they did alright. :)
Now we are back home in our communities, and may be watching the political machinations of our city and state governments with new eyes. For many, there is a deep desire to stay activated. For me, that means working with a couple of friends on a local art show that will benefit a local rape crisis center. I am also organizing a “postcard party” with the women who traveled to DC with me. We are providing Women’s March postcards and a place to write for people who are interested in letting their congressmen and women know what we need them to be focusing on.
There are so many issues, and all of us may be feeling some overwhelm after the firehose of crazy that has come at us from social media and news outlets this week. Here are a few suggestions to help us stay focused and motivated (p.s. these are good for anyone, regardless of your preferred party affiliation):
- Do not engage. A friend commented that she was exhausted from defending her support of the march, and women’s rights in general, on social media. My stance is that people sharing their vitriol (or just plain ignorance) online are probably not likely to change their stance based on my opinions – no matter how reasonable and impassioned they are. If you must say something, keep a list of informational articles handy so you can drop a link in a comment thread and move on.
- Get active. Look for a local group that will welcome your eager participation. For me, that meant attending my first meeting of a local political group for women. I was one of about thirty other newcomers there Tuesday night. League of Women Voters is another good organization to look for – and they’re bi-partisan if that appeals to you. Simply volunteering for a local soup kitchen or women’s crisis center might be an option. And at the very least, start following your state legislators online! They need your support and will definitely keep you informed.
- Contact your reps in congress. You may feel that they won’t listen, don’t care, etc… but it will make you feel better, and will certainly have a better likelihood of effecting change than ranting on Facebook. :)
- Take care of yourself. The news will still be there (like it or not!) if you take some time off and go for a hike. Talk to friends and family about something other than politics. Watch some good movies. Drink wine. Eat chocolate. Don’t start the day or end it online. In fact, maybe even limit yourself to a certain number of hours and then shut it off. You’ll be happier, I promise.
Most importantly – just stay involved and informed. I think too many of us have let others do the heavy lifting when it comes to fighting for our freedoms. It’s high time we got involved. What are you doing to make your voice heard??