Marching to Unite the Divided States of America

I have never felt hopelessness like I have since November 9, 2016.  The American ideal that everyone is important, equal, and welcomed is not a reality.  The United States is divided, and on that day, I couldn’t pretend anymore.   I saw the divide, the anger, the fear, and the apathy.  The unquestionable yet flawed and dangerous pride.  It wasn’t the outcome of the election, but the demonstration of what many Americans chose to stand for.  For the first time, Derrick and I had a frank conversation about moving back to Canada.  Just as we were accepting this as our home, our foundation cracked, and we were back at that awkward in-between.  I thought, and hoped, better for the country.  While I am trying to live with compassion, anytime a new alternative fact is broadcast, my thin armor shatters.   I am struggling.  I have an anger that I’ve never felt before.  I cry, and I yell too easily these days.  I feel helpless.  It’s a lonely place to be.img_1582

This weekend, I went offline and chose to not watch any of the Inauguration events.  It was  a forced break from the nonstop onslaught of divide, distractions, and ego.  I also wanted to hit him where it counts: his audience.  I’m one lone Canadian Alien viewer, and it is time I start refocusing my attention to things and people that matter.

On Saturday we participated in the Women’s March in Philadelphia.   It was a gut decision that we attend.  When we told people we were going, often the first response was “be safe”.  I found that interesting.  And a bit sad.  This March was important, and I’m tired of the fear.

Derrick slept in, but I was up and moving early Saturday, tired yet excited.  Today was going to be bigger than me.  We headed out the door with our pink shirts, and decided to leave our pitchforks and torches at home (despite what the TV says, this isn’t Beauty and Beast people! :)).   As we were walking, we passed a handmade sign, a pink balloon, and a group of knitted pussyhats (I love this!).  These trickles turned into pours of people coming from everywhere.   I was part of a movement, and a beautiful moment.  Thousands and thousands of people were filing the street with peace and empowerment.  So many people came, that the March was more of a standstill.  When the organizer spoke, she said she had hoped for a few hundred to attend.  50,000 showed up.  Without realizing it, I was feeling hope.

I am mindful that as a Canadian male, some may say this isn’t my fight.  That it isn’t like this in Canada.  I disagree.  This divide and fear has spread.  We need to understand it, bury it, and move beyond it.  We must stand together until we do.  Women.  Black lives.  Muslims.  LGBTQ.  Those who are angry.  Those who are scared.  Those who are apathetic.  Those who are strong.  Those like me, and not like me.  I am with you.  We need to forget what we were taught as children, and openly talk about politics, religion, and money.  But we do need to remember the childhood lessons of bullying, and stop the name calling, and the blame.  I’m tired of the me versus you.  We have become tolerant of a never-ending back and forth.  We can’t talk to each other like this:

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No facts, no listening.  Just empty words of people trying to be right.  And sometimes, we are wrong.  So please stop telling.  Instead listen, compromise, and give.  We need to look at ourselves, and within our borders, and stop blaming the rest of the world.  No one is winning right now.  I don’t know any better than you, yet together, we could do better.

For a lot of the March, Derrick and I didn’t say much to each other.  I think we were just taking it all in, one step at a time.  So instead of words, I wanted to share my powerful experience with you through the following 10 photos.

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Now pause, and ask yourself where do you see yourself?

Outside of the photos, here are a few other moments that made me cry, laugh, and think.

My First Tear of the Day:  A man cheering on a little girl who had a sign that said “fight like a girl”.  He ran over to her, gave her a very authentic high five, and cheered her on: “YOU fight like a girl!”

Cleverest Sign: Urine Over Your Head.  Urine over your head, AND You’re in over your head.  Bahaha!

The Thought that Changed My Life:  We must respond, not react.

As we walked home, I felt overwhelmed with a little bit of everything.  The incredible experience we shared.  Witnessing so much vulnerability and strength.  Thoughts of where do we go next.  I felt connected to something bigger than me.  What a thrilling honor to be amongst so many strangers yet so many friends.  To be an ear to listen to a story, to be solid feet on the ground, to be a mind to consider the messages, and to be a hand to connect as an equal.  There is work to be done.

Thank you to those who marched in Philly, in Washington, in Toronto, and all around the world.  To the 4.6 million Americans who united across the States.  And for those who cheered us on from the sides.  Every voice matters.

I know many of you are tired of the protests, rallies, and marches.  So I encourage you to attend one yourself, and listen before passing judgement.  Just be there.  And leave your pitchfork and twitter account at home eh? 🙂   If something upsets you, pause.  And don’t react: respond.

Hope isn’t sitting quietly assuming a better day is coming.   That is adapting with apathy, which is a dangerous, fearful, and lonely state to be in.  It is something we as humans do far too easily.  If you really believe nothing will change, isn’t that your call to be a part of the change?   We won’t lose weight unless we change our habits.  Why would the world change if we sit idle on the couch?

Hope is about taking action with set goals in mind, and actually doing something to make it better.  To sing, to stand, to dream without giving up.  Today was hope.

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What issues keep you up at night, or get you so angry that you can’t stop yourself from venting on Facebook?  What is a perspective you don’t understand?  What fears are holding you back?  What do you see differently from me?  What’s a core pillar of your being that just might be wrong?  What gives you hope?  I would love to listen, to learn, and to understand.  I’m ready if you’re ready.  Let’s talk <3.   

Song of the Day: Get Back Up Again (Anna Kendrick)

2 comments on “Marching to Unite the Divided States of America

  1. Best post yet Mike – I have faith in the majority of Americans who didn’t vote for the carnage the US is experiencing . I was in a Mesa AZ marketplace ( like a huge outdoor flea market ) yesterday and I saw the red Trump hats for sale – no one was buying and I had a wonderful conversation with an older women who sold me a handbag. She said she still doesn’t know how it happened and is worried about his wreckless ways. I saw a young female lawyer at Pearson when we left with a sign that said volunteer immigration lawyer. Good people are doing what they can to help others so from that perspective hope grows. I feel these people carry the good that will eventually overcome – do not lose hope and remember you are not alone. Tolerance rules!

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