the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
This is what empathy looks like.
More than 600,000 people flooded Washington on Saturday in the Women's March. Hundreds of thousands more marched across our great country. More than 5 million people worldwide participated in a peaceful, fearless, nonviolent gathering to support... everyone. Shoulder to shoulder. No panic, pushing, yelling or fighting. All different classes and races were represented to show each other civility and support. Why? For a multitude of reasons. To experience the democratic process. To protect civil rights. Human rights. Disability rights. Reproductive rights. Education reform. Environmental reform. To be a part of a like-minded collective. And because....
I truly believe we live in the greatest country. We can hold protests without fear of retribution. We can speak our minds without fearing for our lives. I believe in the overall goodness of humanity. And I believe we CAN make a difference because we have to.
The reality in 2017 is we are not equal. Have we made progress? Yes. But not enough. Do you have a physical or mental disability? Are you handicapped by the color of your skin, socioeconomic status or gender? You're beginning five steps behind the starting line before you even get out of the gate. I march with you.
Speaking as a woman about women as that is my vantage point: We don't get paid the same as our male counterparts. We are praised more for our beauty than our brains. And God forbid we are not 'perfect' by society's standards. I have taken the blame for men's (and sometimes women's) bad decisions because 'they'll be more accepting of your mistake' or 'they won't be so hard on you.' I silently shouldered the brunt of the backlash. Why? Because I was afraid. Afraid of retribution and repercussions. I have been called a bitch, a cunt, weak, and useless. I never want anyone to feel the shame, the embarrassment and the humiliation of not feeling good enough that I have felt. I don't want anyone to be bullied or coerced. I march with you.
I walked with two women who show me daily what a healthy, loving relationship looks like. I proudly walk with you two.
I want to help protect Mother Earth, because if we keep disfiguring and sickening her, she will rise up and fight back. And She is way stronger than we are. I march with you.
So I jumped on a train and rode 7 hours to Washington. I watched as more and more marchers poured into the cars with each stop. They quietly turned the cafe car into an arts and crafts area, as signs were made, supplies shared and an easy camaraderie quickly formed.
We moved in a sea of humanity that rippled with waves of empathy, buoyed by the force of the message that we are not alone.
We need to be better. I truly believe we can be. We just need to make ourselves seen and heard. Because this is what democracy looks like. This is what humanity looks like. This is what WE look like.
And I'm with Us.