As the Women's March approaches this weekend in Washington, DC, I find myself at the helm of a group of 55 women and men from Marietta and the surrounding area who will join hundreds of thousands of people in solidarity on behalf of rights - women's rights, human rights, everyone's rights. It just so happens that the Women's March was purposely planned by a group of young women to follow the day after the president-elect's inauguration. The president-elect, in his actions, words, and in intended appointees and policies, embodies the reasons we march: to make a bold, clear statement that inclusion of all people in our country and equal rights are issues that must be acknowledged and protected. I think most folks would agree that moving forward, we cannot be assured of support, understanding, or advocacy for those causes from those who move into leadership positions on Friday, January 20th.
I don't take the reasons for going lightly, and I'm certainly not excited about being in a crowd which, by all estimates, will surpass the number of people in Washington, DC, for the inauguration ceremonies. Yet, I haven't been so moved to be a part of a movement since the late 60"s. At that time, the Women's Rights movement was emerging from the social birth canal of our country, citizens still fought for basic civil rights, and the US was involved in a horrendous war in Viet Nam. Good people were fighting and dying (on both sides), and the country's leadership disavowed responsibility. Furthermore, the president broke the law, resulting in the Watergate scandal.
Perhaps the sting of those events and times has diminished over the decades, but the memory of the then and the current state of our country remain to worry me. Very, very sadly, the future of the very issues we stood for and worked for back in the day are under attack yet again, and our soon-to-be administration scares the living daylights out of me, offends me on so, so many levels, and forces me to "walk my talk." As a human rights activist, as a woman and mother, as one who believes in equality and non-discrimination, I would be a model of hypocrisy if I didn't do my part as an agent of opposition and change. And, I understand that I, Tanya Shook Wilder, can do very little personally to make a difference; however, the combined voices of many singular choir members can, indeed, produce a powerful song with a far-reaching refrain and call to justice.
So, I join hundreds of thousands across our country on January 21, 2017, who are genuinely committed to lifting our voices in a chorus that cannot be un-heard by those who take over the government on the previous day.
People on my bus range in age from teenagers to women in their 70's. We have lawyers, teachers, artists, massage therapists, mothers with their daughters, a minister, and others who represent a diverse cross-section of our country. We go prepared for a long, grueling day of standing on our feet for 10 hours, of being in a huge crowd, of being limited in terms of food and water, of infinite weather possibilities. Yet we go, and we carry the message of many people who cannot attend. We'll wear messages from the folks back home as we rely on them for prayers of protection and peace.
I march with the blessing of my 98-year old mother, who would be there herself if age and frailty didn't work against her. She encourages my sister and me to go and include her voice in ours. With her blessing and encouragement, I march for my children. I march for men and women who feel marginalized because of their heritage, their beliefs, and cultures. I march for men and women who need access to health care and reproductive options. I march for my friends and colleagues in the LBGTQ community. I march on behalf of the Earth, on behalf of everyone's right to clean air, water, and land. I march on behalf of immigrants who are forced to abandon their homeland. I march on behalf of those who cannot care for themselves - children, elderly people, those who are chronically ill- and those who walk grace our world in the animal and plant kingdoms. I march on behalf of those who lost their lives as a result of violence. I march on behalf of the rights stated within the Constitution of the United States and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I march because at this juncture in our history and in my life, complacency is NOT an option. Too many human rights and principles are at stake. I march with sincere conviction and love for all people and for my country. I do not take what I march for lightly, under any circumstances.
I hope that in differences of thought and belief people can find common ground. I hope leaders and representatives across our country will stop and reflect.
I hope even those who are not in agreement with what I offer here can at least respect my thoughts and conviction.
Peace and love....to all.