A guest post by Dan Wilkinson
When the alarm went off at 5:15 a.m., what had seemed like a good idea the night before didn’t seem quite so wonderful. From my warm bed, the thought of driving two hours over snow covered mountain passes to attend the Women’s March in Seattle, Washington, lost some of its appeal.
I’m not a radical. I’ve never done this kind of thing before. I hate large crowds. Nonetheless, I dragged myself out of bed, did my morning chores, and began the long journey to Seattle.
Had I rolled over and gone back to sleep, I would have missed one of the most meaningful events I have ever participated in.
Just four years ago, I might have been a Trump supporter. I would likely have believed a demonstration like the Women’s March, and the sister marches all over the world, to be utterly ridiculous. Four years ago, my version of Christianity totally justified patriarchy, xenophobia, homophobia, and racism.
I’ve changed a lot since then.
One day, four years ago, I accidently stumbled upon the Christian Feminism Today website. Out of curiosity I listened to some of the audio recordings and read some articles. The words of Virginia Ramey Mollenkott and Letha Dawson Scanzoni began to soften my hard heart. I recall reading articles by Jann Aldredge-Clanton that discussed the biblical female images of God. Something stirred in my soul. These words, and kind encouragement and mentoring from Marg Herder, eventually cracked my heart wide open and led to my total transformation.
Had it not been for the power of the Holy Spirit and these faithful workers, I may never have experienced the thrill of standing up for social justice and equality with an estimated 175,000 other people in Seattle.
As my wife and I drove over the mountains on the Saturday morning of the Women’s March, I was both excited and nervous. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Would we figure out where to go? How would we handle the crowds? Would I, a white, middle-class male, be accepted by those participating in a “Woman’s March,” or would I be seen as the antitheses of what this march was all about?
Once we made it through the traffic and found a parking place (miles away from where the march was to begin), my concerns were quickly put to rest. The first group of people we encountered, sporting their pink pussy hats and trying to figure out how to get to the march, gave us an immediate sense of connection. We were all there for similar reasons, and my anxieties melted away as I realized my presence was welcome.
After weaving our way through the streets and alleys of the Seattle Sports Complex, we made our way up the hill where we could see large crowds of people gathering along the street. As we approached the sea of pink, the feeling of unity surged as we watched people’s interactions and read the variety of slogans and messages on other marchers’ placards.
The mood of the crowd was unlike anything I had ever experienced! They were there for a purpose, yet there was a spirit of joy in the air. To my relief, I was not an anomaly. Hundreds of other men, many of my demographic, were there, not to lead but to stand in support of the cause and to take a stand for justice and equality. As we moved through the crowds, a wave of emotion unexpectedly swept through me. I was moved and in awe of what was unfolding before me.
Except for my wife, I didn’t know a single person in the massive crowd, yet I felt accepted and closely connected with the other people present. Differences were not a cause for concern; instead, the diversity of people marching with us was a wonderful expression of what we all have in common.
Several times I observed men that I would have, in another setting, instantly classified as “Eastern Washington Rednecks.” But on this day, I saw them marching with signs demanding equal rights for women and all others who are marginalized in our society. It was once again a good reminder not to stereotype and judge people by their appearances.
Respect and kindness was evident everywhere I turned. As the crush of marchers funneled into places where the streets narrowed, people would inevitably bump into each other. Murmurs of “excuse me” echoed all around.
The police officers monitoring the march were shown nothing but respect. There was even a roar of appreciation from the crowd as one officer placed a pussy hat on his head. Even the counter-protesters holding Trump signs were patiently ignored. The behavior and attitude of the crowd made me proud.
Throughout the day waves of emotion moved through me. It felt so right to stand for justice and be a part of a fantastic movement that said, “We won’t let our country go backward. We will rise up; we will work together to ensure justice for all—not only for a select few.”
As we were driving home through the falling snow, I reflected on my takeaway from the march.
It has been difficult for me to feel patriotic lately. The current definition of patriotism seems to embrace everything that goes against my own values. But participating in the march made me realize that our country has millions upon millions of people whose values align with mine, people who are compassionate, embrace diversity, express their opinions peacefully, and seek to lift others up. Just because a loud minority has taken temporary control of the government, I don’t have to give up hope. I don’t have to stop loving my homeland.
Oh, and the sign this formerly conservative, homophobic, xenophobic, patriarchal white male carried through the streets of Seattle said on one side, “We are better than this,” and on the other, “Dissent is Patriotic.”
Dan Wilkinson is much more comfortable working on his farm in Washington state than he is marching with thousands of other people or writing essays for publication. But he knows that every now and then it’s good to step out a little.
© 2017 by Christian Feminism Today