Should I march? A guide for the busy, politics-adverse, non-confrontational, cautious and comfortable

Photo: Mark Dixon

Along with thousands of others, my husband and I will be attending the March on Washington: Portland edition on Saturday January 21. This will be our first time ever participating in a march. I have heard concerns voiced or seen hesitancy on the face of some friends who are unsure of attending for various reasons. I put forth a few of these concerns and my ideas around them, in hopes to have a greater turnout and inspire engagement.

1. It won’t change anything.

A march of 20,000+ people in Portland alone will be a profound statement, but at the end of the day it is just a statement, and action will need to follow. What will be powerful is the feeling of community, of unity, of standing for what you believe. It will be a motivator, it will build connections, and it will be the start of something greater. Great things often emerge from simple acts.

2. I’m a man.

Lack of equal pay effects your household income if you marry a woman. Lack of paid family leave affects your family. Removing easy access to women’s healthcare affects the women you love and increases the chances of unwelcome pregnancies. The small percentage of women in leadership roles (government and private sector) mean that your wife or your daughter’s voices are less likely to be valued.
From the Center for American Progress:

“Women’s ‘share of voice’ — the average proportion of their representation on op-ed pages and corporate boards, as TV pundits, and in Congress — is just 15 percent.” Review all the dismal statistics.

In addition to women’s issues, the march is about standing against the many problematic policies proposed by the new administration. Policies that deny climate change, support religious-based immigration discrimination, and revoke access to health insurance to millions of Americans (among many others).

3. I’m not political.

You don’t have to like politics; you don’t have to side with a party; you don’t have to follow the daily drama to take a stand. It’s not about Hillary or Trump. For me, it is about standing against discriminatory policies, aggressive nationalism, anti-science beliefs, social injustice, and attacks on the working poor.

4. It might be dangerous.

It is designed as a peaceful, family friendly demonstration with city permits and police support. Of course there are no guarantees. It is up to you to determine how you feel about the level of risk vs the importance of your appearance.

5. It’s all just rhetoric, actual policies won’t really be that bad.

My optimistic side wants to believe this too! But the evidence is not pointing that direction. As of now, the rhetoric from the campaign trail has not been reversed. The Muslim ban is a real proposal. The wall is a real proposal. Defunding Planned Parenthood is a real proposal. Repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act is a real proposal. Building our nuclear arsenal is a real proposal. The V.P’s opposition to gay rights, etc. etc. etc.

“We can hope that our government of checks and balances will be more resistant than the Weimar Republic was. Don’t count on it.”
Franz Wassermann from the article, “…Chilling Parallels”

6. I don’t like confrontation.

Few of us do. The purpose of this march is to confront hard issues head on. Of course this is out of our comfort zone! Getting out of our comfort zone is how we grow as humans. I heard a great interview with Roxanne Gay who said: “If you’re not angry, then you’re not paying attention. When people are saying, “don’t get angry” what they’re really saying is don’t make me uncomfortable.” Let’s be uncomfortable together, we can do it.

I leave you with the mission statement from the Women’s March on Washington mission statement:

“The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us — immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault — and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

So with that friends, I hope you all, men & women can join us. Bring your kids. Bring an umbrella. Lace up your boots. Make a poster, and show up with me!

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

This article originally appeared on Medium and is republished here with permission.