Sunday, January 22, 2017

Why I March

Today, a wonderful thing happened. A 'cousin' called to ask me about the Women's Marches. She comes from a family that has a heavy conservative influence. She's a student at Brigham Young University. She is smart, compassionate, fun and articulate; and due to the nature of our ever polarizing news  (and facebook feeds), she was having a hard time dissecting and distilling down the barrage of information about the events. We spent just shy of thirty minutes inspired me to better articulate why I not only chose to have a friend carry my name as they participated in the march in Washington DC on Saturday, but why I will be joining Salt Lake's local response tomorrow. (There were several sister marches also in the state on Saturday, but Salt Lake's march is set for Monday to coincide with the first day of our state legislature being in session.) 

So back to "the why." Let me back up: 

I went to church today and sat in the pew as I listened to a brilliant woman (professor at the University of Utah) give a thought provoking talk about the importance of words and how we should be careful about the words we use. She cautioned about their impact and challenged us to make sure the words were are using lift others up.

My spiritual path may not seem conventional to many that share my religion, but I find great peace in the rituals of Sunday as a Mormon. I sit in the pew, take the sacrament (i.e. communion in the LDS faith) and for the most part am filled with a sense of peace at the familiarity of ritual and song I find inside those walls.

I am reminded of words from one of my yoga teachers, who was speaking about the communal aspect of yoga, but I have found it to also resonate with my choice to attend church (paraphrased): “While the practice itself is individual, we come together collectively to feel and elevate one another’s vibration.”

Within the syntax of the LDS faith, some might recognize that as “feeling the Spirit.” It is the peace and joy that I also find when attending a Catholic mass and hear the ethereal Gregorian chants, when I am surrounded by yogis practicing “metta” – the meditative practice of offering loving kindness. I felt in in college at Indiana Wesleyan University, surrounded by my Evangelical Christian volleyball teammates, as they laid hands on fellow player struggling with their health.

I’ve experienced it in so many places-- from  funerals, to finish lines of marathons and even on Broadway. People sharing their, time, talents and energy often provoke thought and instill in me a sense that I want to be better, and do better for myself and humanity. I cannot deny there is something unique and special about people coming together with a hope in their heart to improve not just their situation, but the lives of others.

I will be the first to admit that I live a life of privilege. To the external world, I’m a cis-gender, heterosexual, white female living in the upper-east side of surburbia. My children go to private school. They are both ‘typical’ children. I have a great job with freedom that allows me to basically make my own schedule, and experience the joys of being a stay-at-home mom. I’m a member of the dominant religion in my community and my state. I’m pretty insulted, and my life –on so many levels – exists in somewhat of a bubble.  

And that is one of the main reasons I march.

Yes, I’ve experienced sexual assault and so many of the by-products of rape-culture, misogyny and sexism. I've been turned down for promotions because of the “mommy-track” and told I “might want to freshen up my lipstick” before I head into a meeting. But overwhelmingly, I have lived a life of privilege. The sexism and misogyny I have experienced, seems trite to discuss  in comparison to what so many in our country are dealing with.  I believe I have a moral obligation to help my neighbor.

There are many ways to serve our neighbors  – for me,  joining together to help raise awareness as a collective voice, feels like just one of the things I ought to do (and want to do). 

From the 'Utah Women Unite' FaceBook organizing page:

“Utah Women Unite exists to protect and advance the rights of all Utah women and girls, including Utah’s marginalized groups, women of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, women of all abilities and from every financial status. We seek to unite as an intersectional collective to address the political, legal, and cultural problems faced by Utah women and to elevate the status and dignity of all people.”

I recognize many of my friends look at the protestors as a bunch of 'sore losers throwing a tantrum' – I say this because I have seen some of them “like” FB statuses with basically those words, or similar sentiments. We don't need to get into the fact that Trump called for people to take to the streets after Obama's election --fueled by Donald's lies that Obama wasn't an american citizen; and extremists on the right had their own barrage of horrifying protests--primarily based on birther rhetoric. 

I denounce the violence on either side. 

And I would remind all of us that our country has a long history of peaceful protesting that has helped to change the tide of discrimination and injustice (e.g.  the Boston Tea Party, to the Suffragists and Civil Rights, just to name a few of the big ones). 

In the interest of full disclosure, there is plenty that I am marching for that is more personal. First, I march for my daughter and for my son. I march for friends and family members who have suffered sexual abuse.   And yes, there are things that I am marching for tied to my political beliefs: better access to reproductive care to limit the number of abortions, protections for our planet, education, civil rights and more.

I march for these reasons and more. I march for the beauty that is intersectional-feminism, and I am excited to get out there tomorrow, join collectively to raise the vibration and peacefully exercise my first amendment rights.


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