Friday, January 20, 2017

Why I'm Not Going to the Million Women March (Or, an Exercise in Finding Balance)

As of 12:00 PM today, the United State of America has a new President. This new President is a man who I experience as a hateful, impulsive, misogynistic, narcissistic, megalomanaical chucklehead. In short, not someone whose actions or values I can respect in the role of President of the United States.

On November 8, an estimated 50% of the voting population in America felt the same way I did. Unfortunately, it was not the right configuration of 50% to win the electoral college and continue leading the White House with progressive values.

So, nearly two and half months after the election of 2016, I find myself contemplating how to live life with an ass-hat reality star as the leader of my country.

Tomorrow, thousands of women and men, mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, sweethearts, and friends will contemplate this reality while marching together in solidarity, affirming their commitment to protecting the rights of women, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ, immigrants, and the poor. Thousands more women and men will don pussy hats, pink knit caps with little kitty ears, in an effort to reclaim that word from our new President, who has been accused multiple times of sexual assaults, and has bragged about his ability to force women to interact with him sexually. And yet thousands more will be sharing progressive social content through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and the like.

Me? I'm not marching. I'm not wearing a pussy hat. I'm not going on Facebook. Instead, I will be visiting a friend from long ago to have my energy and chakras realigned. After then, I will take a long walk through a city I once called home, en route to my favorite tea shop to pick up my favorite tea.

While I have extraordinary ambivalence about the decision to not participate, I also have extraordinary clarity about why I'm not going.

I've lost my center in my grief and anger over what the election of He Who Must Not Be Named to the Presidency.
I see this in the emergence of disordered eating habits long ago buried, the resurgence of sleeplessness, which results in extreme exhaustion and crabbiness. I'm aware that attending a march, even the local one expected to be attended by 40,000+ people, is likely to exacerbate my anxiety about the state of the country, rather than helping me to feel empowered. Tomorrow, I need to find ways to nurture myself so once again I can find my center.

As an introvert, I am not typically energized or comforted by large crowds.
This is ironic given that I have masters level training in Community Organizing, but I typically do not find mass gatherings to be a good use of time. The "group think" mentality - even if it is group think aligned with my values - freaks me out, and I often feel claustrophobic. I know I'd spend a majority of my time looking for an escape route, trying to hear what is happening, or plotting the most efficient route to the subway station so I could get home.

When I'm ready to "do something", I know where to find information and communities made up of people organizing for change.
I don't need to attend a march to connect with people making a difference, or to be held accountable. I'm angry enough to keep myself accountable for making waves. And, I'm an active participant in the #injusticeboycott, have firm connections to the Unitarian Universalists, am a major donor and active follower of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and follow Pantsuit Nation/Action Together Massachusetts on Facebook. I know where to go to get information I trust, and to identify actions I can take with others that will make a difference.

I need to rest and relax now, so I'm ready to step up when my time is right. 
Right after the inauguration was over, my cousin-in-law posted on Facebook - 1,459. That's how many more days there are until the next President of the United States is sworn in. Four years. Four long years. Those of us standing on the side of love have a long haul ahead of us. I have an impressive history of fighting until I've spent every last drop of energy I have, which leaves me permanently depleted. This is partly driven by an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, and a lack of understanding of the ebb and flow of individual contributions to collective good. By not going to a march tomorrow, I'm acknowledging that I am not alone in this battle, and that I can't participate in this fight without taking at least one break. And I need my first break now.

As I watch and read coverage of all you beautiful people marching together, this is what I know:
We're standing together in our hearts.
We have each other's back in this marathon towards justice.
When you you need your break, I'll be ready to step in.

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