Why I Didn’t March

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I spent most of the week thinking I wouldn’t go. Last winter, I suffered some pain, due to cold temperatures (I have some minor health issues) and the Saturday forecast for Santa Fe wasn’t good: cold and snowy. But at some point, I considered just how cold I would really get – would I end up with a painful chilblain? Possibly. But this started to feel more important than toe pain. I couldn’t let a little toe pain stop me, could I?

Friday bloomed cold, bitter cold, and still I felt something inside me pushing me towards the march. Sacrifices are made every day in the name of protecting our rights: our rights to water, to health, to equality. And I thought: it’s time for my sacrifice. Even if it hurts, I need to be there. As I scrolled through the news feeds of inauguration day, it seemed innocuous enough, but as the day wore on, it became clear that things were already moving towards denial of basic truths, science, and protection for those that need it. I became simultaneously discouraged and emboldened.

I was working retail that Friday, but I shut the shop for five minutes, walked three doors up to the local outdoor store and bought toe warmers. Well, hand warmers (they were out of toe) and I messaged my ride to confirm that was indeed going and where we should meet the next morning. When I got home that evening, I gathered my sign-making supplies and grabbed my backpack from the closet. Then I received a message from my ride: she wasn’t going. Well, I thought, I’ll find another friend. But she decided she wasn’t going, either. I had one last option: go meet a group at Wal-Mart and see if I could catch a ride from there. But as I kept looking at the weather, and thinking about my options, I realized that my momentum was waning. It became clear that I wasn’t going to be a part of the Women’s March on Washington/Santa Fe.

I was disappointed, but also relieved. I hadn’t been to a protest in years – I used to be a lot more active, and I was excited to be a part of something again. But then I began to closely evaluate my reasons for going. The biggest reason was because I felt I needed to speak out – I needed to be heard, to voice my opposition, but I can do this anytime, anywhere – I do not need a special occasion to do it. The second reason – and this is the harsh truth: I wanted to be seen. Although it’s hard to admit, I knew there was a part of me that wanted to go because it was COOL. Now, I’m not saying this is the wrong reason to go. Especially if it’s not the only reason, but I felt it was important to consider that if this was one of my reasons, I needed to find some more authentic outlets. So I made a deal with myself. Since I wasn’t going, I needed to do something to further the cause. I decided to stay home and write this post. My writing is an important outlet for my voice and must not be neglected. And I decided to continue working on my meditation business. My work there can change the world – I believe this wholeheartedly, or I wouldn’t be doing it. I “sit” so I can bring clarity and kindness to the world around me, and if I can help others to do the same, then we all benefit. Start with our selves, and change will radiate outwards.

I continue to support everyone who is fighting the good fight, the ones who braved the weather to march in Santa Fe, the ones who drove to Washington, D.C. and the ones who make those phone calls every day to their legislators. May they continue to inspire us to do the same.

There was a comment on my Facebook page this morning that read, “No one can help this country now.” I disagree wholeheartedly: what is happening RIGHT NOW, as I type this, as millions of women and men march all over the world – is that we are helping each other, we are helping this country, and we are together and we are strong. It’s an amazing, beautiful thing and I am honored to help in my own way, even if it’s from my keyboard.

Let’s do this.

4 Responses

  1. Caroline G.

    Dear Mel,
    This is a beautifully written article that truly reflects your beautiful soul.

  2. Mom

    Start with our selves, and change will radiate outwards. I read this line in your blog and a hymn came to me that we Mennonites sang often. Here are the words:

    Let there be peace on earth
    And let it begin with me.
    Let there be peace on earth
    The peace that was meant to be.
    With God as our Father
    Brothers all are we.
    Let me walk with my brother
    In perfect harmony.

    Let peace begin with me
    Let this be the moment now.
    With every step I take
    Let this be my solemn vow.
    To take each moment
    And live each moment
    With peace eternally.
    Let there be peace on earth,

    Substitute “Sisters” and the hymn becomes even more relevant. The melody is beautiful and the song can be found on-line.

    • Mel A. James

      This is perfect and beautiful. Thank you for sharing!