We The People by Marylou Butler
Ninety-five women emerge from their warm huts at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, faces covered with ski masks, not a square inch of skin available for frostbite. In Bethel, Alaska, thirty native women circle up carrying signs in English and Yup’ik declaring their resistance. Two dozen uniformed schoolgirls and their teachers gather in Lilongwe, Malawi. Solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, January 21, 2017 touches every continent. Worldwide, 5 million people in 81 countries take to the streets, launching 100 days of resistance to the election of Donald Trump in the United States.
Pledging to “build bridges, not walls,” protesters sport pink pussyhats, climb onto buses, trains, and planes, and head to the US capitol to birth a new American resistance movement. Over five hundred thousand participants rally in the largest single-day protest in America’s history. Broad in scope, the movement promotes racial and gender equality, economic and social justice, and the preservation of all life.
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the mountains are shrouded in fog, not a blue streak available to the naked eye. It is a bone-chilling thirty degrees without sun to warm fingers and toes. Snow falls gently as men, women, children, canine companions, elected officials, and activists claim the streets of the oldest state capitol in the US as their own. Marchers walk arm in arm chanting “Love trumps hate” and “Women’s rights are human rights.” Lattes, kombucha drinks, and granola bars fuel many while some munch on Dunkin Donuts and hot chocolate. The choice of comfort food underscores the diversity ever present in the City Different.
Earlier that morning, I walked a sandy arroyo with my golden retriever feeling guilty about my urge to stay home and retreat under my down comforter. ‘Let others take up the culture of resistance to preserve the common good over the next four years,’ I grumbled to myself, as my body shivered in the cold. Then, I remembered the others who went before us – jailed, chained, force-fed, even tortured because they demanded the right to vote, an end to sex trafficking of girls and women, birth control, equal pay for equal work, and the human rights afforded white men for centuries. I breathed the cold air into tired lungs, weary from grief and fear, aware that we no longer have a US president holding the nuclear codes safely and sanely. I knew I must walk the path of resistance, chant messages of dissent, and join others to voice anger pent up since the 2016 presidential election.
Merchants wave support as the march winds through our narrow city streets. More than 15 thousand of us exert our First Amendment Right to assemble and voice our grievances. Simultaneously, our comradeship sooths our wounds and makes sense of the loss. We refuse to silently accept Trump’s tweets against women, immigrants, the press, and anyone exposing the truth.
We needed Hillary to demand recounts of the votes and we were disappointed. We needed Bernie to demand fairness from the Democratic Party and we were disappointed. And, we needed Congress to investigate Russian interference in our election and we are disappointed.
Sobered, we walk, remembering that our union is imperfect; our leaders are unable to ensure justice. There are no others to transform this broken system. Knowing millions worldwide walk with us, We, The People turn disappointment into resolve as the sun breaks through and the icy streets melt.
Note: We The People, first appeared in Trickster Literary Journal, Fall, 2017.
Marylou Butler 1944-2020
Marylou Butler, Ph.D. was a psychologist and President Emerita of Southwestern College in Santa Fe. Born in Philadelphia, she was a founding mother of the Feminist Therapy Collective, one of the first in the nation. She was a lifelong advocate for women, for peace, and a practicing Buddhist in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. Her professional publications were numerous before embarking upon creative writing (Santa Fe Literary Review, Trickster, Orion).