You pray for me. I march for you.

Last Saturday, January 21, 2017, I was part of the glorious throng of people (some estimates as high as 1.5 million) in Washington D.C. who came together to stand up. Stand up for women’s rights, yes, but also for the right to assemble. The right to free speech. The right to clean air and water. The right for control over our bodies. We stood for many reasons, all as individual as we are.

For me, it was about strength and diversity and inclusion and equality. It was about standing for the ideals of a country I love deeply, with knowledge of her flaws. It was standing together in a sort of defiance, I suppose, against a lash of emotion that propelled a completely unfit man into the White House. I was there for my grandmothers, both of whom worked tirelessly in their own ways to give me this privilege. I stood for all who could not be there and all who had done this kind of thing before me.

Before the march, I feared. I feared a swift and unjust response from the new administration. I feared violence. I told people at work where I was going, in case I didn’t come back on Monday.

I wrote my name on my arm, with contact information for my husband, in case I was rendered unable to speak for whatever reason.

Sharpie comes off of skin with soap and warm water, in case you were wondering.

One of many neighborhood signs and people on the 2 mile walk to the rally point.

There have been vicious words written and spoken about those of us who marched. Dismissive. A deep lack of understanding. Incredulity. There is no irony seen in being offended by costumes of uteruses but at the same time using words like “bitch” and “twat” about those of us marching, at times using those words directly to my face (well, okay, directly to my comment on social media.) Many think the marches were out of sour grapes, a toddler-like reaction to losing a bitterly contested election.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. My daughter asked, “Is this bigger than some other protests after an election?” I stared at her, almost unable to respond. “This is not normal. Sure, there are protests after an election. But there has NEVER been a response like this. There has never been an election where there are protests and rallies and solidarity shown by the entire globe. This is NOT normal.”

One of the signs.

Christian friends tell me, “I’ll pray for you.” Not as in “Wow, are you ever screwed up and I think you need the protection of my God and I really hope you get your head on straight”, but as in “I am thinking of you, and sending love, and offering up my belief and energy to be directed toward you.” Though my spirituality doesn’t hold with a tall dude in flowing robes with a beard, or some benevolent grandfather-type in the sky, this offer is lovely. I accept the prayers, because they are coming from a place of concern and caring. “Thank you,” I say, and leave it at that.

My belief is in a country, in a world, where diversity and inclusion and listening and standing up and equality and sharing makes us ALL stronger. My belief is in humanity, and in the deep need to celebrate who we are. It’s in the belief that standing up for those unable to stand for themselves, for whatever reason, is the absolute, 100% right thing to do.

You pray for me. I march for you.