The Climate March

Friday’s email told me a climate march would take place in Chico the next day. On such short notice, I wondered if many people would turn out. I arrived at the fish fountain in front of the municipal building on time, and saw three people, working on signs.

“Is this the right place? Are we having a march today? Where are the thousands of people?”

They were expecting their leader from 350 Chico, a local climate watch organization that had planned the march.

Gradually people showed up, mostly college aged, but also an older woman in a walker from a weekly peace vigil down the street, a man in a wheelchair, a homeless woman, and a college professor. The grand entry of a family of five, all bearing signs, was a real spirit lifter–not that spirits were low. We had plenty of signs, and eventually we numbered 30, not enough to march. Instead we lined both sides of the street where we bobbed signs and waved at passing vehicles.

The father of the family had promised his bathing suit clad kids a run in the plaza’s fountain afterwards. Meanwhile the daughter, Genevieve, who appeared to be eight years old, threw herself into leaping and dancing and yelling slogans and lectures nonstop. Traffic or none. It was fun watching her, so beautiful and athletic.

As drivers waved, gave us thumbs up, or honked, we answered with whoops. Woo-hoo! About 35% responded positively to us. Only three were negative. One guy farted black smoke out of his pickup’s tailpipe. Another gave a thumbs down. The third yelled “fuck you” with a dirty gesture. At that, words flew out of my mouth, “Jesus loves you!” Which earned me a surprised look from another sign bearer.

Did the insulter hear me? Possibly.

I thought about Trump who professes to be a Christian but acts like the devil. But then I thought, this rude guy who drove by is loved. And it’s out of love for our planet, ourselves, and our future generations that we are demonstrating…to save all life, and yes, even the lives of those who resist us. Our children and our children’s children want to live. Shouldn’t we give them that chance? We must.

Despair is no excuse for inactivity. The remedy for despair is to act. As long as there remains a shred of democracy, we can act peacefully–through the vote, through petitions, through contacting our representatives in the government, through writing articles, and even through prayer. Should our democracy completely disappear, where checks and balances no longer exist, where votes, petitions, and other peaceful protests are no longer allowed and our voices are silenced, only then would our protests turn violent.

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They Marched Across America; They Marched Across the World

January 21, 2017. The rain had stopped, and the day beckoned, with clean but breezy skies. The rightness of my decision to march felt as pure as a rain-cleansed sky. I’d signed petitions, written articles, written congressmen, and wondered if my efforts made any difference. Perhaps the Women’s March would have no impact either, but somehow it felt important, spiritual even. Certainly historic.

The traffic seemed unusually light on my drive to Chico. And when I saw a half-filled parking lot, I wondered if any but a few would show up at the city plaza, where we would meet. Upon leaving my car, I saw another parking lot, crowded with kiosks. It turned out to be a farmers’ market, well underway with offerings of great produce. I passed through and noticed another woman walking in the same direction I was taking.

“Are you going to the march?” I asked her.

“Yes.”

When we reached the plaza, it was so crowded with people that I had to snake about to get to tables that held sign-up sheets for local events or free signs. I picked up a small paper one and headed for the restrooms. There was a small line, of women and men. The toilet doors were open, so we could see each had one stall. A plaque built into the wall said these facilities were open to all genders. I pointed that out, and a woman of about 45 agreed with me that that was a good idea. She was wearing a pink hat over a brown one, and the pink one threatened to slip off her head, until a nearby lady fixed it for her. The two-hat lady then explained why she was wearing two hats. “I’m female on top and male below.”

This statement brought no change in the congeniality of those waiting in line. One of the men even offered information on whether there was a urinal in the restrooms.

Afterward I returned to the dense crowd, noting how so many men were attending. They were welcomed, and signs suggested that men of quality practiced equality. They were husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons. Indeed whole families attended, as evidenced by the presence of the old and the very young. I finally edged up to the table where I could select a large, sturdy sign that read on one side, Normalize Equality.

It was interesting to read the different signs. Love Trumps Hate seemed to be a favorite, or Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, but there were many other wonderful messages, a few even in Spanish. One that touched me to tears were the words of Joan Baez, to the effect that action is the cure for despair. Later as we marched, I saw an elderly woman holding a sign that said she was marching for the same reason her mother, her grandmother, and her great grandmother marched. That stuck with me.

Before marching, however, we were greeted by the organizing team. For no more than five minutes apiece, some of them spoke. There was a Latina university professor who had been in this country for 20 years and was thankful for what it had given her. Another was a Japanese American professor who was a native of this country and had been through a lot. A woman who looked to be in her 60s but was really in her 90s spoke for about a minute. She was a veteran of WWII and said her daughter would be wearing her uniform in the parade. I wanted to hear from the tall, statuesque African American woman who also stood on stage, but she didn’t speak. She looked stunning, like a goddess in a yellow turban.

We received instructions on marching and were told to ignore any hecklers. Actually there were no hecklers. On our way onto the street, I passed the lady in the yellow turban. Closer up I could see her youth. Was she a university student? I said, “I love your outfit.”

She thanked me.

“I come from a rainbow family,” I told her.

“I come from a rainbow family, too.”

Wow.

And then we entered the street and slowly passed the city hall. A lady beside me was walking her golden retriever. The dog was so well mannered, that I jokingly said, “Oh, is your dog marching for animal rights?”

“I have a border collie,” another lady responded from nearby.

Some started chanting and I joined in. And when the man behind me said, “I hope they don’t do ho, ho, hey, hey,” I agreed with him.

Actually we hardly chanted. We mostly partook of pleasant remarks. The only chant I remember is “Freedom! Freedom!”

A policeman and his car at each turning intersection directed our progress. All along the way, people who were watching smiled and sometimes showed us a victory sign. Shopkeepers stood in their open doorways, watching with approval. We passed the farmers’ market, and as we continued toward the university, cheers arose. Across the intersection we could see the other street, that it, too, was filled with marchers.

A lady alongside me asked me where we were headed.

“To the city plaza.”

She had joined the march late because she’d walked from home. She asked me where I was from. I told her, “Red neck country.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Because of the signs that had been erected leading up to the election.”

“It’s changing,” she said, meaning for the better.

A young man danced at the edge of the street, facing the marchers. He was playing a saxophone like a professional. Later we passed a man playing a ukulele, and doing a fine job of it.

I came upon the lady in her mother’s uniform. We fell into a brief conversation. Her mother had served in the army. I, also, had served in the army, but during the Vietnam war.

We passed another intersection where we could see marchers filling the streets we had left. Soon we reached the plaza. A rally would follow, but I had accomplished my aim. I drove home, feeling clean and at peace.

Once home, I shared with my husband about the event, and we booted up the computer, to watch with amazement and delight the march that stretched around the world.

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