Tuesday, January 24, 2017

transcend and superintend our civic order and engagement

"Be known for a Christian anthropology that puts the dignity of life — of every life — at the center of the political enterprise... be known for courage in applying this commitment, without prejudice, to every party and ideology.

"There are temptations of pride in this prophetic role as well... It is easy, through an excess of outrage, to become the parody of a prophet. But Christian faith, at its best, points to a transcendent order of justice and hope that stands above politics. So it was in the abolitionist struggle and the civil rights movement. So it needs to be in the Trump era."

// Michael Gerson

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Friday I sighed.
Saturday I marched.
Sunday I rested. And reflected.

Yesterday over 1% of the total U.S. population marched in solidarity with the Womens March on Washington in protest of the Trump presidency.

Why did I march?
Why did I spend all day standing/walking, hungry and thirsty and chilly, with "I'm Esther, call Joshua ###-###-####" emergency contact info written in Sharpie on my arm?

A photo posted by Jon Stockford (@jonstockford) on
Not because I agree 100% with the organizers' views. In fact, I find myself dissenting with much of their vision of "women's health" and "reproductive rights." In the capitol, some groups with opposing stances on birth control were excluded from co-sponsorship of the event. Some women felt shamed or excluded for being "not progressive enough." This is sad. In Manhattan, I saw all sorts of women, men, children, humans join together and bring NYC to a beautiful standstill. It looked like free and creative expression. It sounded (for the most part) like friendly chatter and sporadic chanting. It smelled at one point like the sage that someone near me was burning. It looked like quick, sweeping mobilization and organization. And I am glad that "privileged white women" employed their privilege to open this space and time, efficiently. There was mirth and joy and anger and hope and civility and friendship.

I marched for women. Old grannies, yesteryear's suffragists, women of color, women refugees, mothers, little women, unborn women, future women, church ladies, unchurched ladies, anti-church ladies, for the womb of the earth. I marched for my neighbor-woman.

Gloria Steinem said, "It's about knowing each other, which is what movements and marches are for." In our hours of waiting, listening, speaking, strangers became friends, opinions were expressed, solidarity and affirmation of humanity in diversity were witnessed. I marched because I knew I could be frustrated by an overwhelmingly white and underwhelmingly yellow turnout, so I give my color. I thought it could be riotously angry, loud, hyper-liberal, condescending –– and I gave my dissent and diversity and diminuendo. I give from my margins and I give from my privilege––because I can afford to. I had time and energy where many, for example, could not have afforded to take a day off from their all day minimum-wage-or-lower work. And most of all, I march for the woman not like me. There is space for all of us, right?

To me, feminism is simply the radical idea that women are humans, too. Women's rights are human rights. Daughters of Eve do not come from men's ribs. Sons of Adam do come from women's wombs. I believe that a society's thriving is tied to the protection and flourishing of its women.

I am not in favor of donning Donald's labels and profanities and obscenities: "pussy" "bitch" "nasty woman", tempting as it may be to "reclaim" these words or to throw them back in his face. Or in wearing dishonor (even ironically). One of my objections to his presidency is the precedent he sets, Our children are listening. To him and to us, too. I do not believe his defamatory strategies and hateful rhetoric (or "giving him a taste of his own medicine") are most effective in promoting peace, or that his vulgarities should be publicly and proudly imitated. But the shock value is also important and possibly effective in highlighting what must not be normalized. Not without protest.

I do not join in the chants of "NOT MY PRESIDENT" because, sadly, he is now our president. Even as I protested with over half a million people in his hometown NYC that is my home too, I look at Gambia this same week, and I am so grateful for our country's peaceful transfer of power. I am grateful for our freedom of speech and right to nonviolent protest. I am profoundly impressed at how peaceful yesterday's demonstrations were in NYC. The civility and camaraderie. The people's patience while protesting. So much faith restored in NYPDblue. Here are some chants I did join:

  • L–O–V–E / Donald Trump dont speak for me
  • No hate, no fear / Immigrants are welcome here
  • We want a leader / Not a creepy tweeter
  • Consent in the sheets / Dissent on the streets
  • Show me what democracy looks like / This is what democracy looks like

And I carried a mirror, to show my fellow protesters what democracy looks like, to me. At some points in the day, democracy just looked like it needed a cocktail or a bagel or a nap or a potty break or a hug.

Democracy starts with the man in the mirror. I held a mirror instead of a sign, in hopes that our activism will always start from and return to ongoing reflection.

I held it out especially to any children, any "others," anyone noticeably on the minority of the march (the elderly, the elderly, the hijabi, the unpopular pro-Lifer, the colorful, the men) or of the country. I want you to know, this American idea, this project, takes all of us.

I hope we will stand close enough to our neighbors to see them in our mirrors––or at least within hearing distance. Hold each others posters, share snacks and lipbalm and stories, push strollers and wheelchairs. Maybe even embrace.

When they go low, we go high?

When we went low, He went lower. He descended to the dead, the dying, the departed––to hell. He gathers us up in his resurrection and ascension. That is how we, or I, go high.

This is my honest reflection.