It’s a fairly recent heart and somewhat delayed, but it’s still one I had to share because it’s one of my favorites.
My friend and I were determined to go to the Women’s March on Washington: Toronto. I’m not usually a fan of big crowds but with so much going on in the world, I wanted to take part in this chapter of the history of women’s rights. I felt like I had to, if I’m being completely honest.
We all gathered at Queen’s Park in Toronto and though the weather was chilly and grey everyone rose to greet the occasion. There was music coming from the stage speakers and in a matter of thirty minutes everyone descended on spare patches of grass turned mud.
I couldn’t believe just how many people were there. When it comes to certain social justice issues I didn’t fathom that so many would be this engaged but we made history as one of the largest marches the City of Toronto in Canada, had ever seen.
We found a drumming group, Baque de Bamba and marched, while dancing down University Avenue to what I called my feminist rhythm. I marched so that I could say to a future daughter or to my niece, when they feel like they’re less important or struggle because of their gender, that there were over 60,000 people who said they believe in their importance and contributions as women.
While we were reaching Nathan Phillips Square, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed in the crowd and saw a sign pinned to a backpack that helped me remember exactly why I was there.
I had never, in my lifetime, seen anything like the crowd that surrounded me. I climbed on top of the base of a statue to get a better view and stand slightly separated from the crowd. The past few months have been filled with discouraging messages and things that genuinely challenged my usually positive outlook on world events. Standing there though, chanting with so many people that it echoed through the surrounding area, “The people, united, will never be defeated,” felt like the hope I was looking for.
It reminded me that there is still work to be done but that we’re entering a time where optimistic action undertaken consciously as activists, is what can help us make better collective choices when the hard questions are asked.
Sure enough, on the way home our signs in hand, my friend and I crossed path with a heart on the pavement, ever so faint.
It reminded me that activism doesn’t just involve carrying signs and taking to the streets in support of important issues or being a vocal advocate of those issues among friends and family. It means choosing to see the possibility of peace in some situations where anything but that exists. I somehow believed that you couldn’t be an activist because you had an active spiritual life but I realized that there is nothing more spiritual than saying to those who have less privilege or advantage, “I see you, I hear you and I’m willing to put in the work to help create the world you deserve.”
We may not change the world alone, but if we change ourselves first and come together in that, the world around us has to change in kind.