Around 4 p.m. last Saturday afternoon, I sat in Elephant and Castle on Pennsylvania Avenue as President Trump delivered a televised speech to the intelligence community in front of the C.I.A. memorial wall. Around me a rowdy crowd booed and jeered at this man, and outside a steady procession filled the streets in opposition of him. For hours, hundreds of thousands marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, wielding signs with motives ranging from political to comical, and every feeling in between. The chants mimicked a similarly varied rhetoric, and among the most popular?
“We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter”
“We are the popular vote”
“Hair today, gone tomorrow”
“My body, my choice/Her body, her choice”
“Black lives matter”
These in addition to many variations of chants insulting Trump’s tiny hands, no doubt fueled by a recent single from Michael Whalen and Fiona Apple. For some I joined, others I laughed. I will even admit to having laughed at a sign that said “There will be hell toupee”, and many others that used Donald Trump’s name in punny ways or placed his image in compromising situations. So I took it all in, this powerful, historical blip in time. But there was a moment, when I looked around and wondered if we were missing the point.
Earlier in the day, I stood among a massive crowd on Independence Avenue, staring up at images of various celebrities, activists, and politicians. Each delivered equally passionate addresses to those in the crowd, calling for action against a government that is in no way representative of its people.
Each with their own style, speaker after speaker spoke of purpose and power among the many gathered. All highlighted the common struggle, and some noted divisive differences, but the message remained equality and opposition to Donald Trump’s administration. Perhaps the most powerful did not come from a well-recognized public figure, but six-year-old Sophie Cruz.
With her mother, father, and little sister, Sophie spoke first in English, and then in Spanish, reminding the crowd how this world can look from the wise eyes of a child.
“Let us fight with love, faith, and courage”
We must remember not to act as the very people we are fighting, not to speak the same hateful words. While we may be campaigning for a just cause, insults directed at appearance are in no way justified. Neither is violence. The world is changing, revolutions of thought overtaking once ardent traditionalists and bringing light to the centuries-long burdens of many.
The manner in which we used to solve problems will not work for this changing world. If we wish for peace and equality, we must reflect both, in actions and words. If we wish for change, we need not violently rebel, but demonstrate peaceful and civilized protest, as over 1.2 million people did around the world on Saturday, January 21st. But, as any activist will recognize, the march was just the beginning, a way to unite and showcase the need for change, globally. The question now becomes, are you ready to work for it?
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featured image source: Tara Roche