Why We March

Signs from the Women’s March in Austin:

“We Shall Overcomb”

“We’re Not Ovary-acting!”

“So Bad Even Introverts are Here!”

“Free Melania!”

First prize goes to: “Super Callous Fragile Ego Trump You Are Atrocious!”

We were sitting on the front porch after last weekend’s rally, and a neighbor walked by. “There was a march in Antarctica!” he called out, and we cheered.

“I’ve never been to such a march, and I’ve been protesting since the Exxon Valdez oil spill.”

“How many of us were there? 20,000? 30,000?” The Austin American-Statesman put the official count at 52,000! I’m beginning to become as obsessed with size and numbers as Donald Trump. The New York Times published a long series of photos from Women’s Marches around the world, and I realized, as I scrolled through them, that I’ve been depressed since November 9 — the day after the election. It’s as if I’ve emerged from underwater.

Before the march I got in a fight with my 85-year-old mother. She asked, “What are you marching for? It won’t do any good. It won’t change anything. You need to get over it.” Suddenly, although I’m 57, I reverted to the 15-year-old who furiously argued I was old enough to see The Exorcist! “What good will it do?” I asked. “It will do us good to gather together in solidarity, not to be isolated in our profound fear and disappointment. It will transmute our despair into a hopeful movement for change.”

And it did, but it was so much better than I expected. It filled me with joy to be one of thousands of people merging together, reading the clever, humorous signs, delighting in our exuberant solidarity, running into friends and former and current students along Congress Avenue, cheering to those above us in the balconies, noticing the incredible diversity in ages and colors and ideologies and causes.

It gives me hope that one woman’s Facebook post suggesting we should maybe have a women’s march the day after the inauguration mushroomed into an unprecedented worldwide movement! I was so happy to think how our huge, international turnout would get under our president’s Trumple-thin-skin.

Before the rally, I thought: I know, I know. My team lost and I’m supposed to get over it. Even if I can’t respect Donald Trump, the man, I must respect the office of president. I must celebrate a peaceful transfer of power and pray for the good of the nation.

Now I am changed. I pray that he resigns or is impeached as soon as possible as I believe he’s insane. I’ve accepted that I’ll never get over it, but also that I am not alone. And our resistance to Trump, each for our own blend of personal reasons, has one thing he can never buy with his billions or procure with his power, something essential to being a fully realized human: a sense of humor.

Think about it. As much as I disagreed with George W. Bush about the War in Iraq, among other things, I always appreciated his self-deprecating humor. Obama had great timing whenever he joked at events, such as at the White House Correspondents’ dinner. Trump can’t laugh, not the way we laughed at the march as we read the clever signs, as we proudly wore our knit pussy caps. I’ve not only lost my despair but also my fear. I believe that we are part of a movement that will continue to grow, just like the Tea Party did. Remember the Tea Party, at first? A few old quacks wearing tri-cornered hats? Who knew that movement would lead to Donald Trump? Think what a head start we have now on the Tea Party then! We will create a new earth.

So what are we to do now that the march has ended? I’ve put in place a Google extension, Trump to Kittens, so that every time his orange face appears on my screen, it changes to a photo of frolicking kittens. I will continue to protest and march — not just this one time. I will write and call my representatives and senators at every opportunity. I will continue to stand up for those marginalized, demeaned, and insulted by the president, and I will use my voice through writing and speaking to express dissent. I will not retreat from the news but will stay informed. I will be an active member of the resistance. I will live with the motto “Love Trumps Hate” and know in my heart that We the People shall one day trump Trump.

One more sign: They Tried to Bury Us. They Didn’t Know We Were Seeds. — Mexican proverb

Sara Stevenson

Former public school librarian