I spent time with a friend Sunday morning, and searching for a metaphor, I mentioned that Joey, Georgie, and I had attended the Women’s March in Boston the day before. My friend, an older, right-leaning, white woman seemed puzzled.
“It was for women, wasn’t it?”
Yes, and no. Yes, so-called women’s issues were clearly front of mind for a great many people there, so it would be both wrong and insulting to suggest otherwise. But I could easily have been there “only” to support issues such as freedom to choose, gender-pay equality, and others.
The reason I used “so-called” above is that these issues affect women more, but they are not women’s issues. As a number of signs at the rally said, women’s rights are human rights. I’m for human rights, so why would my attendance surprise anyone?
I could also have been there is support of my wife, for whom those issues, and that march, stirred and served passionate feelings. If only to bolster my wife’s aims, it’d be a no-brainer.
In addition to “women’s issues,” a common thread among marchers’ signs was concern for the natural world. I have been writing since 2009 about how the planet’s survival has a direct link to ours. Just for its environmental content, I’d have wanted to be there, as I was for 350.org gatherings half a decade ago.
But the No. 1 reason I was there? Those people were doing something. Off their asses on what could have been (but pleasantly wasn’t) a cold, January afternoon, wanting to add their voices to a problem they see in our land.
It should be clear that by doing so, however, I haven’t done very much. In the past year, I’ve called or written to my congresswoman and senators several times, and I’ve written on my blog and social media. In 2008 and ’12, I made campaign calls for President Obama. For a year, I helped lead Boston Green Drinks, was my town’s representative to the state climate action group, and profiled participants in the clean-energy movement.
But I didn’t work for Mrs. Clinton — a combination of a lack of passion for the candidate and an enduring belief that not nearly enough people would vote for Mr. Trump — and there’s plenty more I could have done to work for outcomes I want.
I would say that most people, including most of the 150,000-plus at the march, haven’t done enough to work for the civic outcomes they want to see. To me, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump were prime exhibits of the shared willingness to let someone else worry about it. If they were the best we could do … well, IMO, they weren’t.