Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Yesterday I marched. Now what?

Yesterday, January 21, 2017, I was part of a massive, historic event.  Part of an estimated 750,000 people filling the streets of downtown Los Angeles, I marched in the Women's March, LA.  (Although, to be completely honest, we didn't march so much as we shuffled along, pressed together with men and women of all shapes and sizes, sometimes so smashed together we could barely move.)

Crowds at the Santa Clarita station waiting for the train.

In the aftermath on my social media, I saw a few things - posts of solidarity and pride, photos of women, men and families who marched, and detractors - some asking questions and some challenging the effort or those making the effort.

I came home from the March filled with pride, and also wondering.  What now?

First, I want to address the detractors, those who are questioning or even challenging the effort.  I have seen several variations of questions - some asking what we hoped to gain, some asking "why bother".  I've seen those saying things like "he's only been in office 1 day, give him a chance," and some saying "I don't get it, what is the cause?"

Here's my answer:  Do you close the gate before the cows get out, or after?

President Trump filled his campaign speeches with promises to defund Planned Parenthood, repeal Obamacare, to build a wall between the US and Mexico and to put Muslim immigrants in camps.  How do we, as Americans, sit idly by and allow any of those things to come to pass?  Worse, in the days after the election, Trump surrounded himself with transition team members who eagerly spoke out as supporting his various positions and in some cases, took those positions further.  He also included members on his team that have gone on the record denying climate change, have argued for shock therapy to "cure" homosexuality (VP Pence), and one that is a Neo-Nazi.  I ask again - should we close the gate before the cows get out, or after?

And just this week, reports are coming out that Trump is looking to cut funding to the arts, cuts to Medicare and medicaid, and massive cuts to domestic violence programs. While I have not vetted those stories on my own, the threat of those cuts should scare everyone.  (And for those that might argue "but Trump can't do those things on his own", should we sit back and wait for Congress to tow his line?)

People want us to sit back and wait to see what happens.  If that is not giving tacit permission, I don't know what is.  We are standing up to tell Washington that we will not sit idly by and watch them whittle away our quality of life.  And if you feel that those things don't apply to you, how long do you think it will take before they get to something you do care about?

Second, I have seen several articles decrying the March (mostly in connection with the D.C. March), as having excluded pro-life proponents.  I have also seen posts and articles claiming that those stories are either false, or put out there in an attempt to cast the March in a bad light.  I have not done any research, and do not know what truth there is to those stories.  I do know that I did not see anything in LA yesterday that would lead me to believe that anyone was excluded.  I even saw pro-Trump signs. For that point, I can only tell people what I saw, and that was a peaceful, inclusive crowd, open to all shapes, sizes and stripes of humanity.  I will also say that for me, personally, I think we need to include people of both camps in any discussion.  There is nothing written anywhere in stone that says just because someone is pro-life, they cannot be in favor of protecting women's rights.  There is also nothing saying that pro-life and pro-choice proponents can't champion the same other causes.  So we all need to keep an open mind.

Third, to those who have been asking what our "cause" is in marching, I say this.  All you have to do is read a few of the signs to see what the cause is - or in fact, causes are.   Some were marching to protest the proposed repeal of the ACA.  Some were marching to protect women's rights (the threat against Roe v. Wade is very real, with legislatures in several states working on bills to limit a woman's rights and the make-up of the Supreme Court an open issue).  Some were marching to support the LGBT community and protest the dangers they face.  Some are marching to protest Trump's appointees to various cabinet positions, appointments that appear to be without reason.

There are several very real threats to various groups of people, threats that have been foretold in campaign speeches of the very man elected President.  And while some might argue that the marches were merely "anti-Trump" rallies, I don't think anything is that simple.  Instead of dismissing the marches so easily, perhaps you need to take a closer look at the signs and ask yourselves - why so many people (not just women), and what are they saying?  Stop, look, and listen.

Finally, what now.  We came, we saw, we marched.  At the end of a long day, we stood in massive lines for bathrooms and snacks, and then we packed ourselves onto crowded trains and subways to make our ways home.  We watched the news, we watched the administration (Trump) call us out and we waited.  So what now?

As my supportive husband asked - what do "we" (the collective we) do with this energy?  How do we keep things moving forward?  Someone else asked - was there anyone there signing people up to vote?  Was there anyone there taking down names or email addresses so that people could volunteer or donate?  From where I was, unfortunately no.  There was such a huge crush of people, I'm not sure that was possible.  I would like to think that there is someone, somewhere trying to organize things and keep this movement going.

For those of you reading this wondering what you can do, I have a few thoughts.  Donate to Planned Parenthood, donate to the Jewish Defense League, donate to your local arts programs, donate to a battered woman's shelter or domestic violence program.  Change the word "donate" in the last sentence to "VOLUNTEER" and read it again.  Get out there and help in your community.

Let your voices be heard.  Call your representatives and tell them not to repeal the ACA.  Tell them to protect your rights.  Organize at the local level.  If you feel so moved, run for office.  We have become complacent, believing that those in government have our best interests at heart.  Many don't.  Many are motivated by the lobbyists' dollars and have forgotten that they work for us.

While some see this as a largely "democratic" issue, it is not.  This is an American issue.  As I mentioned above, just because there aren't currently any threats to the things you hold dear doesn't mean those threats aren't coming. (Recall that famous poem about not speaking up when they came for other groups, until finally they come for you and there is no no one left to speak up for you.)  I have had many friends say that they didn't vote for Trump - either because they supported another Republican candidate, or because they didn't like Hillary.  If that's the case and there are things that Trump is doing or saying that you don't agree with, speak out.  Let Washington know that we - all voices - want to be heard.

Regardless of what "side" of the issues you are on, don't expect this to stop.  Don't expect these issues to go away or be swept under the rug.  There are those who will continue to organize, who will continue to fight.  Educate yourselves.  Don't take things are face value, and don't accept as truth everything you read on social media.  See past the headlines and find the truth for yourself.  Don't accept something as truth just because someone told you to believe them.  Also, to those who disagree with you - be civil, be human.  You never know when you might need something from them.  Let's do away with the labels - we are not "snowflakes" or "libtards" - and lumping people into large groups does not get anyone anywhere.  (To my Republican friends reading this, do you like being lumped in with Trump supporters if you did not vote for him?  Just as you may not like over-generalization, neither do we.)   Side note - I will continue to call neo-Nazis just that.

Also, don't assume that just because someone disagrees with you on one issue, that they are against you on all issues.  There are so many shades of grey.  And remember to keep an open mind.  I disagree with friends on many issues, but I am willing to sit down and listen, always willing to engage in thoughtful discussion.  The odds of my convincing them that I am right, or vice versa, is small.  But in the course of discussion, we may gain a bit of insight or understanding.  You never know.

Last thought - if there was another March tomorrow, would I go?  Putting logistics of child care and school schedules and work aside, yes.  But I might take the earlier train.  :)

Crowds at City Hall - LA


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

"They'll grow out of it eventually,"

With one simple sentence, (and likely without realizing it), my hubby managed to put just a bit of my stress to rest.

I have 2 daughters.  As a result, we have a lot of toys.  More specifically, we have a lot of stuffed animals.  Both girls have cubbies under their beds, which are used to house many of those stuffed "friends."  But things are getting crazy.  Not only are things crowded under the beds, but sometimes there is barely room for the girls to sleep in their beds.

Over the past few years, I have tried several times to cull out some of the less-favorable friends and "hide" them or send them on to better homes.  What makes this effort so difficult, is that I can rarely get through the pile without noting where each specific animal came from and much of time, having a story to go along with it.  The dog that K never plays with that suddenly showed up on her floor last week?  It came from Grandma Trudy's house.  No getting rid of that.  The zebra that suddenly materialized?  Nana gave it to her.  The bunny rabbit that I literally have not seen in 2 years that is suddenly back in the rotation?  Gift with purchase, but came at a time K was throwing a fit in the store and perfectly distracted her.  The same goes in B's room.

Each stuffed animal has a story, and a name, and a reason that they can't move on.  It stresses me out.  Some days, way more than others.  As I'm trying to clean the house and put away the holiday stuff, the sight of the messy pile on K's bedroom floor (a result of cleaning off her bed to change the sheets) and the knowledge that B also has a pile, drives me crazy.  It makes my stomach clench at the thought of all of the clutter and the feeling that I cannot get ahead of it.

Then last night, with one simple comment from my husband, things changed.  My stomach unclenched just a bit and I relaxed.  "They'll grow out of it eventually."  Yes, they will.  At some point, many of those beloved friends will cease being quite so important.  One by one, they might be willingly donated by my girls to new families with little ones in need of some companionship.  (Think "Toy Story" here.)  Bit by bit, the room decor will change and stuffed friends will give over to more nail polish and make-up (or books.  I'm good with books.)  And I'll miss this.  I'll miss this crazy, unorganized and unruly pile of fluff and stuff.

Sadly, there will be a day when my girls won't lay in bed in the mornings giggling because Mommy made Olaf sing and dance and Mr. Bear woke them with tickles; a day when they won't cling to a stuffy friend when they are upset.  I don't want that day to come too soon.  So in the meantime, I'll step over the pile and hope that I don't accidentally "hurt" anyone buried underneath.  (Stuffed boo-boos being so hard to care for.)  I'll continue to put them away in their "house" under the bed and I'll smile when an old friend comes back into the rotation.  I'll wait, and I'll let them have this moment.  Because someday, it will be gone.