by Gretchen Staebler
I am not an activist. Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, I narrowly missed most of the great protest movements of my time, and I have stayed in my bubble of white privilege in the years since. But I have become uncomfortable.
I was one of 10,000 at the Women’s March on Olympia, my state capitol. It was the day I became an activist.
Marchers came out in the rain for many reasons, as indicated by the signs they carried. Their passion was palpable, but peaceful; they came in both outrage and love. Some, of course, were protesting the election. It gave me pause to reflect on my reason for being there. The election wasn’t what I hoped for, but it’s over and we must move on.
I marched because I sense a threat to the rights and privileges guaranteed by our Constitution: freedom of the press, equal rights, freedom of religion.
I marched because I fear the hard-won strides women have made toward equality will be erased.
I marched because of hatred I hear in the rhetoric toward immigrants in America and those who will seek refuge here in the future.
I marched for my daughter and her wife, to protect their marriage. I marched for my bullied transgender sisters and brothers.
I marched for all who were not born into white privilege.
I marched because I want to send a message that we live in a global society. As the greatest nation on earth, it is our responsibility to assist, to the full extent of our abilities, those countries whose people are struggling.
I marched because I sense a threat to the strides that have been made to correct the damage we have been inflicting on Mother Earth for decades. The lives of my grandchildren and their grandchildren depend on what the generations of adults living now do about it.
I marched for my 100-year-old mother whose generation suffered for the freedoms I enjoy. I marched for my four young grandsons who deserve the freedoms my generation fought for.
I marched because I feel the moral core of our nation is under attack.
I marched to join my voice with millions of women, men, and children around the world who marched in their own cities and towns. I marched to send a message to Congress that I am watching, that I am expecting them to do their job to represent their constituents and uphold the Constitution, even if it means opposing the administration.
Saturday I stepped out of my comfort zone, and I’m not going back. My one day at the march, was only my first day. I have already acted beyond the march, writing to my legislator and giving money to organizations doing the work I want to see in the world.
I am a citizen of the world. That which affects my sisters and brothers, affects me. I marched to show them and the world I care. And caring will change the world.