The tasks that are entrusted to us are often difficult. Almost everything that matters is difficult, and everything matters. – Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke
I think one of the most difficult tasks is to talk open heartedly to each other– by that I mean not just across race, gender and age, but to each other: Trump supporters, Hillary supporters, Bernie supporters. All these allegiances have their reasons.
I don't write about politics. You have all heard about the march, or perhaps you were in DC (or another city!) this weekend– where more than four million people across the globe, of all ages, races and religions gathered. We had no security checks, no violence and no fear. It was an extraordinary experience of being in the midst of what is most admirable in human beings.
We marched in harmony, good humor and kindness, all the way to the Washington Monument. The only policeman we saw along the way was when my friend and I climbed onto the roof behind the Smithsonian in order to see Gloria Steinem. Everyone down from the roof the policeman shouted. Once we were all back on the ground, he ran along the high wall, waving his arms as the crowd clapped and cheered for him.
Others were also trying to get a better view. The speakers– Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Michael Moore, Ashley Judd– (to name a few)– were visibly moved by the size and warmth of the crowd. When a girl with pink hair perched in a tree saw her friend fall from a high branch to the concrete below, there was a moment of stillness– and then a path opened in the crowd where there had been no space between us a moment earlier. Hundreds of hands went up, pointing toward the person in trouble, and guiding the medic– who magically appeared from the crowd.
There was every sort of pink hat on women, children and men . An old man and woman stood against the National Museum of African Art- the man sporting a pink pillow case tied at the corners. A young man wearing a pink kerchief and a plaid shirt pulled out an empty barrel and began playing it like a bongo, and one by one others joined until there was a circle of bongo sound.
Children everywhere were balanced on their Dad's shoulders. One too small to write, held up her drawing. My friend's granddaughter, Zinnia, wrote:
We want love and peace and no more bad words.
The signs were of every sort, and often with humor- perhaps you have seen the one with a large image of Dr. Seuss:
I do not like you down my shirt
I do not like you up my skirt
I do not like you near my rump
I do not like you Mr. Trump
At times we could hear a roar rising from the distance– it stopped us, not being able to identify it, searching with curiosity and then awe as it came closer and rolled over us like a giant wave. It was a song arriving by air that we all joined in powerful jubilation:
What does democracy look like?
This is what democracy looks like!
I have been to other demonstrations, but I haven't ever experienced such kindness, power, humor– and lack of aggression. There were times, of course, when people lost each other. And cell phones either weren't working, or had run out of juice. Still, there was patience when someone needed to get through the crowd, and people helped one another. The policeman who had asked us to get down from the roof assisted us in finding our friends again. It was only later that we realized this was happening all over the globe. I am yet lifted up by the experience.
Do you have any stories from the historical weekend of inauguration and marches? Have you reached out to anyone that is on the "other side"? I'd love to hear from you.