Pete Seeger said, “The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.” (NY Times article quoted in Parker Palmer’s fabulous book, Healing the Heart of Democracy)
We were part of an optimistic story on Saturday at the Helena women’s march. We joined millions of women and men in 30 countries and every capital, major city, and many smaller ones in the US.
Our 94-year-old mother insisted on being there, so we found a spot for her wheelchair behind the capitol building, and cheered as they marched by. It took 55 minutes for them stroll by, three-deep, and Pat says more than half of the estimated 10,000 people didn’t go all the way around to the back.
The signs were wonderful:
By a tiny child: “Tweet everyone with respect”
“Love Trumps Hate”
“This is What Democracy Looks Like””
“I’m With Her” (picture of statue of liberty)
From a little boy wearing a football helmet “Tough boys stop bullies”
A really large man’s sign read “This is what a sign-carrying feminist looks like”
“Didn’t we already do this in the 60s?”
Women’s rights were the focus of many signs, of course. A great many women and men wore pink pussy hats in reference to the President’s bragging about grabbing women by their private parts.
A number of women and girls had variations on “Keep your tiny hands off my rights”
Some were dressed in suffragette outfits.
“Girls just Wanna Have Fun-damental Human Rights”
“How does it feel to be rejected by this many women?”
Environmental protesters were out in force.
“This mother (the earth) is mad”
“Climate change is caused by hot air in Washington”
“Science > (is greater than) s**t you read on twitter”
Almost every other progressive cause was represented (because almost every cause is under direct attack from our Republican establishment).
“We all came from immigrants”
“LBGT people are people too”
By a little girl “I’d rather have a grizzly in my school than a gun”
Some of the signs didn’t fit any category.
An elderly woman “Agitate, agitate, agitate!”
(a reference to Game of Thrones) “Even the Lannisters pay their debts”
“Gravity is a Chinese hoax”
“We shall over-comb”
A tiny girl “I’m terrified”
“I never carried a sign before, but….”
A great many of the marchers going by the back of the Capitol shook hands or hugged our mother. One man standing behind us asked my brother Steve, “Who is that woman than everyone knows?” Steve said, “Dorothy Harper.” The man said, “Oh, I know Dorothy Harper.”
By the time the speeches started, Mom and I couldn’t get near the spot they had reserved for her because of the massive crowd, so we couldn’t hear all the motivating speakers. We felt like Steve Garnaas-Holmes’ poetic description of the crowd in Boston:
For women, for peace and freedom and justice,
a hundred seventy five thousand strong in Boston,
joined in umbilical hope with millions more, we marched.
We marched to say we won’t look away from injustice,
to say we will not exclude or demean anyone, that justice is for all.
We marched to pledge ourselves to live gently but out loud,
to live with love and reverence, to heal and bless,
to include the outcast and lift up the downtrodden,
to speak truth, to work for justice and to be people of peace.
We marched in resolute hope, not anger.
We marched in wonder and gratitude for the power God gives us
to resist evil, to love our neighbor and heal the world.
We marched to surround ourselves with joy, beauty and hope.
It was not a protest; it was an affirmation.
Too far from the stage to see or hear, we cheered for the cheering….”
The demonstrations were uplifting. Now it is time to go to work to create optimistic stories of standing up against evil and creating good. Let’s get marching.