What is it they say—if you remember the 60’s, you weren’t really there. . . ? I guess that could be me. I was a college student in the second half of that decade, at Kansas State University. I was naïve and unaware, self-absorbed and involved in my social life and sorority—and occasionally in my studies when deadlines and finals demanded. I didn’t use drugs, but I did drink rivers of alcohol, the more acceptable drug of choice for “nice” sorority girls. I had a vague awareness in my last two years at K-State that there were protests for “something or other” on the campus. I know now of course that the protesters were FOR civil rights and AGAINST the war in Viet Nam (yes, Kansas was more progressive then!), but at that time I wouldn’t have made the distinction.
Now I’m in MY 60’s, at least for another year. And on January 21, 2017 I became a protester myself when I participated in the international Women’s March. To be precise, I think I had participated in at least one protest march against the war in Iraq with other Seattle First Baptist members. But it was much smaller and not that memorable. This was memorable—in fact, it was a life-changer. It was truly remarkable in its scope, its organization, and its peacefulness. And it was so energizing to know as we marched that women and men in cities around the world were marching together in common purpose. My daughter Kate was marching in New York and we shared photos back and forth.
I marched with my good friend Nancy Roberts-Brown, and as we marched, she and I focused on the importance of keeping the energy alive—finding ways to make our lives count going forward, once the excitement about the Women’s March had subsided. That’s the real meaning of the March—not the endless variety of “pussy hats” or the clever signs or even the amazing numbers of women and men around the globe who marched for human rights on that day.
It’s what we do with the energy we generated through that event that’s important. It’s how we’ll maintain support for justice when the going gets tough. It’s what will call us into the streets again, that will make us pick up our phones and our pens, when our own rights and the rights of the most vulnerable in our communities are threatened.
November 9, 2016 was my 69th birthday. I woke up that morning realizing that the world had changed overnight. Or maybe it hadn’t changed that much—maybe I just hadn’t been paying attention. But I woke up that day to a world that scared me to the core. And since that day, I’ve been waking up a little more every day. I’m paying attention now.
One thing I know is that I’ve been very lax when it comes to being informed about and taking responsibility for the state of affairs here and around the world. I’ve been a believer in social justice causes for at least 40 years, but I haven’t been much of an activist. Now in the “third third” of my life, I’m aiming to be better informed about both local and national issues. And I’m committed to taking a stand on things that I believe are important. And I’m looking forward to the next Women’s March in the firm belief that it’s never too late to change!