Meaningful march

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

This past weekend, women, men and children all around the world united to march for basic human rights. The Women's March has become one of the largest peaceful protests in history, with citizens from all seven continents speaking up during the worldwide event. This is something to be proud of. It's something I'm proud of, at least.

Most of you know I'm not very happy with our new president. Like many who oppose the new administration, I've been told to give President Donald Trump a chance to make his mark before making up my mind about him. "The people have spoken," someone wrote in an email to me. "Put on your big girl panties and accept it." I can understand that point of view. If you voted for Trump, of course you want everyone to support your candidate.

But I've already seen everything I need to know about Trump. I saw it when he mocked a disabled reporter. I saw it when he bragged about sexually assaulting women. I saw it when he called for a ban on Muslims entering our country, which has been a country of immigrants for centuries. I don't need to see anything more to know how I feel about Trump, and I'm not the only person who feels this way.

That's what the Women's March was about. I've seen some people call it the "Anti-Trump March" as if that would make it any less legitimate. Truthfully, it was a march against Trump ... against his proposed policies, his hate speech and his attitude toward anybody who isn't a rich white man. When Trump won the election, I cried for days. It felt like all the horrible things Trump has said and done were being validated. As a survivor of domestic violence, I couldn't stomach having a president who believes it's OK to sexually assault a woman if you're rich enough.

I didn't share my emotional response openly at the time, because, quite frankly, the world felt a lot less welcoming to me. That was confirmed when I saw people sharing videos of Clinton supporters sobbing, calling them crybabies and sore losers. When I saw that, I realized some Americans are so blinded by partisanship that they can't muster up even a little compassion for their fellow citizens. Of course that goes both ways, but I've always thought sore winners are much worse than sore losers. Those who feel the need to kick others when they're down make all of us worse. That's the kind of attitude that prevents understanding from either side, and I haven't seen it get any better since the election results came in.

It's exactly the reason the Women's March happened. The march was for better understanding. It was a peaceful protest attended by women, men and families from every corner of our country. Nobody looted. Nobody instigated violence. In every way, the march represented what it means to be an American. So many people in our country feel misrepresented by our new president, and they expressed that in a way that let them raise their voices without harming others. My deepest hope is that the march will inspire all of us to have a little more compassion toward others ... to see, understand and appreciate our differences.

When Trump won the election in November, some of his supporters urged people like me to accept it immediately. Remember that email: "The people have spoken." Well, I'd say the same is true for the Women's March. People all over the country have spoken up for human rights. That includes the right to express positive and negative opinions of our leaders.

It's not a bad thing. It's the most American way to respond to something like this. We aren't sore losers. We're Americans who are concerned our country is heading in the wrong direction, and we have expressed that through a peaceful protest.

You don't have to support the reason behind the march to support the march itself. You don't have to agree with your fellow Americans to show compassion toward them. Republican or Democrat, I think we could all work toward being more compassionate.

The march certainly won't solve that problem, but I think it's a good start.

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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.