Absent for the Women’s March, Here for the Movement

marching shoes and American flag

It’s been an intense weekend. My newsfeed is full of pictures of women at their local Women’s March. And here in DC folks of various political parties and backgrounds have taken to the streets across the world to stand up for themselves, and the world that they want to leave their children.

And yes, I’m watching it only from behind a screen. Not because of a lack of solidarity, but because of something I’ve learned about myself- rarely am I best helping others by joining in protest.

I used to feel extremely guilty about this.

I was raised to be aware of the world around me. To not only count my blessings, but to know that people fought hard for me to have them. Then, for much of my twenties in DC, I hung with organizers (you know, like Obama before he entered office). This means some of my people are of the sort that will lay down on 495 and interrupt your day so that you know they (and we) matter.

So I ignored the signs my body would give me- nerves and upset stomachs in the midst of passionate crowds, exhaustion for days after an action. And I pretended not to notice the nudgings in my spirit that said that it was just as important for someone to be back home, waiting with hugs and sandwiches, or contributing to the bail funds of those going to jail. I don’t ignore those signals anymore.

Because over time, I learned that there is more than one way to move the world forward, and it takes all of us, using our gifts, to get to a place where everyone’s rights are respected.

As a doula, I believe that I’m still a part of this same movement. It’s more quiet, and more intimate. But can be just as transformative.

Bringing nonjudgmental support to families as they bring new lives into the world requires the spirit of hope, the same belief that this world can be better, and that it’s worth giving to our children.

I write this for myself, to reassure the part of me that wonders if I’ll regret not putting on a pink pussycat hat today and taking to the streets. But I also write it for each of you.

Maybe you missed the march because you were working. Perhaps you were sick, you lacked childcare and didn’t want to take your babies, or you were very pregnant. It’s okay. There’s more to do.

In fact, what is most important about protests-so the organizers tell me at least- is that they bring unity and attention to issues, so that we then have larger numbers of people ready to do work together later.

Find your place. Get in where you fit in. Whether that’s volunteering in your neighborhood, holding your local government accountable to the people it serves, running for office, or getting involved in your faith community, there’s room for us all.

I’ll be over here with food, hugs, and the radical idea that we all deserve care and compassion, no matter who we are, who we love, what we look like or what choices we make. If you need support after the Women’s March or any other time, you know where to find me.

4 Comments

  1. This is amazing Sam!!! Thank you for this voice! You are so accurate not everyone needs to march, but we all have a place.

  2. Anne Iverson says:

    I feel the same way – all my friends were at Chicago’s protest, and I did not go. I would just say, “I don’t do well with crowds.” I felt that other people thought that was a cop out, but I would just hope they would leave it at that. Truthfully it is much a much more complex anxiety with roots in (yes, crowds, but also) a history with activism that was meaningful at times and also damaging. I would much rather nourish those who want to protest. Your words are a balm to my uncertain heart.

    • Yes for sure! Big events like this especially have the chance to be both meaningful and damaging. I think yesterday was a perfect example.
      We have to talk more about this stuff- I’d love to hear more about your thoughts.

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