On Saturday, 4 million people around the world marched in what was the largest peaceful protest in the history of the planet. And we were there. My wife, my daughter, my son and I made signs, packed snacks, and drove to the state capitol to stand up for something. But what?
You know what? Let me just get this out of the way first. 4 million people?! No! It was 5! No, it was 3! Yeah, I get it. Crowd estimates are just that: estimates. The low estimate is 3.2 million people. The high estimate is 4.8 million people. I averaged them. You okay with that? It might have been a few more, it might have been a few less. But what is certain is that it was the biggest. Ever. The next highest protests on the list were the Republican Marches after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France, and those crowds are estimated at 3.7 million people. And please don’t bring up the Cubs World Series win. 5 million people did not gather, because it would have been physically impossible. And besides, that wasn’t a protest.
So anyway, we decided to leave early because there were 3000 people expected in Montpelier that day and we didn’t want to get stuck in traffic. And it was a good thing too, because around 18,000 people actually showed up! I’ll tell you, I’ve never seen an interstate where every single car merged over to the exit lane in unison. Nobody was going past Montpelier. Not the people in front of us, and not the people behind us. We all took the ramp together and got in line to find parking.
Luckily I know Montpelier a little bit from various rehearsals, so I defied Google Maps and got out of the line of cars waiting to take the first bridge. We went around and found great parking half a mile down the road. Then we went for pizza. It was surreal. The place was closed until 11:30, and it was 11:19, so I took the kids into the toy store next door while my wife waited outside for the pizza place to open. She texted that she had gotten a table and when we arrived 90 seconds later, every table was full and there was a line out the door. Thank goodness my wife had waited. Where had all those people come from?! But no matter. Our timing was on point, we ate pizza, and we arrived at the beginning of the march ready for action.
As the march began my wife commented that what was really missing from the event was music. We needed some good ol’ protest songs! There were drummers and singers further back in the line, but we couldn’t really hear them. So we started singing. We sang “This Land is Your Land” quietly to ourselves as we marched, until people started joining in. Soon, everyone around us was singing in praise of equality, community, and public lands. We marched all the way to the statehouse and stayed there until Edward reached his expiration date. About twenty minutes. Then we went home, again avoiding all of the traffic and feeling refreshed, renewed, and invigorated.
But why? Why would I drag my family out into the cold to wander around with strangers? What was the point? This seemed to be the question of the day from various people who I do not even know that felt like harassing me online as I posted pictures from the march. “Just my opinion,” wrote one lovely women whom I have never met, “but this is complete foolishness. You’ll all be happy when you get those jobs Trump is bringing back!” And bless her heart, I think she was serious. Multiple people came over to my digital yard and started crapping all over what I had been so excited about. And they assigned reasons to my participation, for instance that I want to kill babies, or that I am a whiny idiot. And one of those things is totally not true!
So why did I march? If you want to be angry at me for marching, then you should at least know why you should be angry, don’t you think? Because despite the fact that a pro-life organization was turned away from sponsorship, this was not a march to protect a woman’s right to have abortions. (Yes, I know my wife is holding a pro-choice sign above, but this is not about her, and that’s not her sign anyway, she is holding it for the woman taking our picture) And despite the fact that some people wore pink hats, this was not an event at which everyone was required to wear pink hats and carry signs with vulgar language that they learned from the president. And even though that meano of a potus has already done some terrible things since Friday, this was not even a march to complain about him. So if you are guessing that I was marching because I like abortions, you are wrong and I do not. If you are guessing that I like wearing pink hats and saying crude things, well, okay, maybe, but that was not why I was there. And while I was there I did not wear a pink hat or say crude things. And if you are guessing that I was there to whine about losing an election, you are also incorrect. So let me tell you why I marched, and then you can be mad.
I marched for social, economic, and environmental justice. I am not worried that Donald Trump will take away my freedom. But you can bet I am worried that he will take away someone else’s. I marched to let the world know where I stand on the issue of social justice, and that if someone in power tries to take freedom from someone else, especially those non-“white male protestants” like me, that this white guy will not sit around and let it happen. I marched to send a message of economic justice; to say that those with more money do not deserve more say in how things are run. To say that all people deserve food, shelter, health, and a chance to succeed. And I marched for our planet. Climate change is real, it is caused by humans, and everyone in the world knows it except, miraculously, for republican leaders and those people to whom they have fed “alternative facts.” This issue is not going away, and indeed is only going to get worse. And I am tired of being tired of it. I am tired of not doing anything. Now is the time that we must all act. Come on guys, I have children. I have a daughter.
My question is, why weren’t you marching on Saturday? You can support the president and still want justice for all people, can’t you? You can hate abortions and still be for general women’s rights, can’t you? You can think that all liberals are sensitive idiots who spend their days crying and making up new genders, but still appreciate time in the woods, or on the lake, can’t you? Why won’t you stand up and say that these things are important? Why is everything so political? Why can’t we all just get together and say “this is what matters,” even if we disagree on how to go about achieving it. We used to want to provide for everyone, we just had different routes to the finish line. Now it almost seems like compassion is absent and “caring” is a liberal thing. Don’t be like that. Be a human. Be a good human. Care.
Yeah, I know marching will not solve anything. We could all march around and hold signs and yell and then go home, and what would that accomplish? Nothing. BUT! If the marching gives us energy, if it brings us together, if it shows the world that we are not going to let our freedoms be taken from us, and then we start putting that energy into action, even if it is just being a little kinder, well, then that’s why I marched. And if that scares you, if that threatens you, if the idea of a clean healthy planet full of clean healthy people bothers you, if you feel that for someone else to gain you have to lose (and that you are more important than anyone else), then yeah, you should be angry about it. Go ahead. Write a comment. I can take it. Just make sure you have your “facts” straight.