When I took my two young sons with me to the Women’s March, I wasn't fully sure what to expect, or how to explain to them why it was important that we walk together. Personally, I wanted to show them what could happen when we showed up for what we believed in and to find healing and strength through tolerance, civility, and compassion for fellow human beings – recognizing that diverse communities are the strength of our country. That we could unite to harness our voices, and our ability to peacefully protest, as a radical tool for social transformation.
What my sons witnessed were women, men, and children from all across the world standing up in solidarity. Being a part of a global movement felt like a moment of true empowerment, one I don't think I can ever forget. Together, we made history. Together, we were walking forward towards kindness, compassion, and equality. Its endearing to see them perk up when the Women’s March is shown on TV and try and find themselves amongst the sea of people.
The positive energy and love amongst the marchers was palpable. Strangers were holding hands and taking pictures with one another. They were smiling, laughing, and enjoying the movement that was unfolding in front of their eyes. We were all in it together. Truthfully, I hadn't felt a moment of such connection with friends, family, and strangers alike in many years.
My young son videotaped the entire march. He was greeted by encouraging and loving adults who willingly agreed to be interviewed on camera and explain their personal reasons for marching. The overwhelming response that he received was “for a kinder America” - one that is inclusive, just, and loving to all.
I didn't walk away having any more answers than when I arrived. I still feel the same struggle within me: how do I fight for what I personally believe in, while seeking understanding and compassion for those who espouse different views? Perhaps the ability to see through another's lens, even when we don't agree, is the hallmark of compassion. At the same time, I must reconcile that with standing for my own beliefs and values.
The march was also an unexpected reminder that we can find gratitude in the most challenging circumstances. I discovered that this election, and the march, was an opportunity to be grateful. Thankful for women uniting all across the world. Thankful for the opportunity to teach my children about democracy. Thankful for the reminder to continue checking my own unconscious biases. And, even thankful for having the activist fire lit within me.
I seek to understand, I seek to be understood, and I continue to seek guidance in asking the right questions from all of those around me who have experienced battles that I have not fought. It is not easy. For me, perhaps enlightenment may not be found on the cushion, but in facing these very real struggles while maintaining my core values, moment by moment. And yes, step by step.