Monday, January 23, 2017

Trying to Unravel My Thoughts About the Women's March

I have been dreading Inauguration Day 2017 since the primaries.  I knew that I was going to be unhappy with the result of the election, no matter which side won.  I couldn't bring myself to cast a vote for either Clinton or Trump.  I cast my vote for someone who realistically had no chance of winning--but, living in California, no one but Hillary had any chance of winning, so I didn't feel like I was "wasting" my vote.  

The election (and now, beyond) has been nasty, on both sides of the aisle.  My Facebook feed makes me sad.  Name calling, unfriending, and an inability, or at least unwillingness to civilly listen to opposing views, come from both my conservative and my liberal friends.  I know my conservative friends are not the uncaring monsters the left describes, and I know my liberal friends are not the crybabies the right-wingers assert.  

I always vote, but I usually avoid political discussions.  The other day, however, I had a friend text me, and we had a one-on-one, private discussion about what we've been observing on social media and about the Women's March in particular.  Our conversation really got me thinking.  My mind churned on the topic.  My dreams revolved around politics.  (I mean my literal, middle-of-the-night dreams, not dreams of the Dr. King variety.) One of my friend's statements really stood out to me:  "With all this talk of inclusiveness, there doesn't seem to be a place where I fit in." 

I admit, though I had heard about the Women's March, I had not taken the time to read their platform.  From news reports, I had gathered the Women's March was an anti-Trump demonstration, and that they were speaking out against some of his statements and proposed policies.  Even though I am a woman, even though I didn't vote for Trump, and even though there are some "Unity Principles" in the Women's March platform that seem self-evident, as I read through their complete platform, I realized that I didn't agree with everything. The "Mission & Vision" page statement sounded reasonable:
We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families - recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.
"Vibrant and diverse" excludes a vast segment of society, though--anyone who is opposed to abortion might have a problem with the Reproductive Rights platform, for example:
We believe in Reproductive Freedom. We do not accept any federal, state or local rollbacks, cuts or restrictions on our ability to access quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, or medically accurate sexuality education. This means open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education. 
Yes, there is attraction in the whole, "I am Woman, Hear Me Roar," mentality. Women are strong, and can be a huge force for good in the world.  Being able to stand up for kindness and compassion is noble.  There is something exciting about being part of something bigger than yourself.  I suspect more than one marcher thought of women's suffrage movements of the past as they were demonstrating.  

However, the Women's March wasn't just tackling one issue; it was taking on a whole slew.  On the abortion platform alone, I would excuse myself from participation.  Does this make me someone who doesn't care about people with disabilities?  I would beg to differ, though some Facebook posts would make that jump. 

So, what can I, my friend, and others who feel excluded do?  First of all, we can refuse to get caught up in the name-calling.  We can vote, and if we choose to get involved in various issues, we can contact our senators and representatives to make our opinions heard.  Most importantly, in our daily lives, we can live according to our convictions.  Our biggest impact probably won't come on some huge national scale, but in our own homes and neighborhoods.  We can teach our children kindness, and we can demonstrate the same.  We can volunteer our time.  We can listen to the lonely or lend a shoulder to the sad.  With small and simple acts, we can serve those around us.  As we do so, we will find that we do fit in in all the important ways.  




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22 comments:

  1. Well said. I'm guessing that few people who marched checked into the movement as much as you did.

    I have never declared a party and don't get caught in the party loyalty mindset. I always tell people that I vote for America. I vote for candidates that I believe will stand up for our rights and put country first. Sadly, those candidates are rare. I didn't vote for either presidential candidate in November, but now I demand the new President be held accountable while in office.

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    1. It sounds to me that you think things through before you cast a vote. That is wise. Demanding accountability of our leaders is also smart.

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  2. The left's version of unity and diversity is a lot like Satan's. I'll stick with the Lord and try to live up to His standards of unity and obedience. I didn't vote for either of the main candidates but now that the election is over I'm glad to have a President who seems to be on America's side and I'm hopeful for a slowing down of the horrible descent to dictatorship or anarchy we were on. At the same time I'm so sick and tired of politics! Let's just get on with doing what is right in our own lives and communities.

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    1. I understand that political feelings can be strong, and I agree that the Lord's standards are what we should aim to uphold. However, the church is neutral in regard to political party for a reason, and comparing the left to Satan is just as unfair as comparing Trump to Hitler. Neither Democrats nor Republicans hold a monopoly on good, honest people--and I know loving, helpful people of both political persuasions. You are right--let's get busy doing good! :-)

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    2. Thank you so much for this response, Kristi.

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    3. While many on the left are good, decent people, the leaders and their platform are straight out of Satan's playbook, that was what I referring to. Didn't mean to generalize about ALL people who choose to follow that way.

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    4. Rozy, you might not be aware, but part of the Democratic platform reads, "Democrats know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith in many forms and the countless acts of justice, mercy, and tolerance it inspires. We believe in lifting up and valuing the good work of people of faith and religious organizations and finding ways to support that work where possible." That doesn't exactly sound Satanic. While both parties can have extremists, I don't believe attaching such negative labels to either platform is accurate, nor does it help in understanding and progress. I respect your right to disagree, however, but don't really want to turn this into a debate. :-)

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  3. It's wonderful to know understand, completely, the values we have in common: voting, volunteering, supporting, etc. We disagree on abortion as a right, and I suspect you and I both already knew so about each other. I knew we disagree on other issues. But at the heart of things, we believe in service to others.

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    1. Sarah, thank you for your comments. It is so nice to be able to hold civilized conversations with you. We might disagree on some issues, but we are acting out of what we honestly believe is right and good, and we share in a common belief of kindness and service to others. I appreciate your understanding of that. If there could be a march for THAT, unfettered by political agendas, we could march together! :-) Thank you, my friend!

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    2. I did some sort of weekend training years and years ago, can't remember the name of it. But I remember one of the tenets was "Presuming Positive Presuppositions." The training had been touted as not just good for working with other teachers but for life. I think I lost that PPP goal for awhile after the election, and I've lost it at other times in my life and will lose it again. But it's a good thing to remember and return to. As you wrote, "we are all acting out of what we honestly believe is right and good." We must start there.

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    3. I like that. It works great in marriages and families, too.

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    4. So true!!! So much more could get done if everyone could keep in mind that the vast majority of people on "both sides" are doing what they are doing and believing what they are believing out of a desire to do what is good and right. I'm pretty sure we have quite a bit in common.

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  4. Well said, Kristi. I have some very strong (and I think complicated) opinions about several issues related to the election, this current administration, the women's march, and more. I have chosen, as I do in real life, to avoid conversations about such in my online life. It doesn't mean I don't care and am not doing things (many you mention) in my personal life to advance the things I believe in and fight the things I oppose. That often makes me feel an "outsider" as well. But you know what? As I thought about it this weekend, I realized it shouldn't. Just because I don't appear publicly to be in support of or against something (or DO appear, for that matter) doesn't mean someone can accurately label my thoughts or actions. So I decided to just keep doing what I know I need to do for me and my family, support the people I love in their efforts (regardless of my agreeement/disagreement with their views), and continue to work toward a better future for all of us.
    Your words are always valuable to me.

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    1. "Just because I don't appear publicly to be in support of or against something (or DO appear, for that matter) doesn't mean someone can accurately label my thoughts or actions." YES! I think everyone wants to be able to define herself. Thanks for your comment!

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  5. Thank you for this excellent post that shares the heart of the rest of us, that don't really fit in, but do care, and do support many of the issues, but not all. Like you, I believe that the most powerful statement we can make is with our lives, how we choose to live and what we do for others... and what we teach our children. I found the events of last week so disturbing due to the ugliness on both sides. Tolerance, compassion, listening, and not labelling are important!

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    1. Thank you. I think a big key to progress is to discuss the issues, not attack individuals. It's sometimes difficult to separate people from problems, but when we can, life is more peaceful and solutions appear.

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  6. You always make me think...
    I just need to write a post of my own. I've written and deleted 3 comments from here. :)
    You are right. The best thing to be done is work in our families and our communities to help others and demonstrate what we believe through our actions.

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  7. I tried to respond to this sooner, but was on my iPad, and for some reason it wasn't letting me post. Anyway, I think you did an excellent job of sharing your thoughts on this. I think that women tend to want to show that they care, even though every single issue may not be in exact alignment with their own views, thus there may have been some women marching who were not 100% in agreement with all the issues. Perhaps I am wrong in thinking this. I don't know. Some may have been marching out of frustration and anger, or just because, or because they felt with the masses, their individual voices might have more weight. I know the march, even though I didn't participate, made me think of marches and protests that have taken place historically and the value, or not, of them.

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    1. I don't know, either, if all of the women were in 100% agreement with the platform. I just knew that the platform didn't define me entirely accurately, so I didn't feel comfortable joining a march.

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  8. Your last paragraph says it all Kristi. Well done. I feel really strongly on this one and once well enough can actually add something more to this conversation... But so glad you wrote this. Thanks

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, my friend. :-)

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Thanks for making this a conversation. I love to hear your comments!