“The people in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isaiah 9:2)
Yesterday I attended the Women’s March in Boston, a march for not only women’s rights broadly but also for immigrants, LGBT rights, care for the environment, the black lives matter movement, and a wide platform of civil rights issues. From the signs that I saw the march was focused on civil rights with an emphasis on women’s rights–there were especially a lot of signs about sexual assault. Simultaneously, there were marches all around the country in many cities, and of course also Washington. And in DC there was also the annual March for Life, a pro-life march arguing for the dignity of vulnerable life at its start and at its finish. From my point of view as a Catholic—who doesn’t fit too neatly into any political group—marching for health care, the environment, for refugees, for the rights of groups marginalized because of their race, ethnicity, or religion—is also a pro-life issue. If we say we care about life, all human life, then we need to protect it and treat each person with dignity from the very start to the very end, but not lose sight of the majority of life where it is lived. We have to think about which policies will ensure that children don’t go hungry once they are born, and that elderly people don’t have to choose between buying medication, seeing a doctor, and paying their heating bills. That’s a true life message also, and the women’s march spoke to many of these issues.
The march was also a time of hope: tens of thousands of people, sometimes shouting but mostly smiling and cheering, and happy to see the turnout of 125,000 plus that had vastly exceeded initial expectations. I was thrilled to embark on the commuter rail, normally half empty, and to find that there were no seats left and that we would have to stand. It took hours to get from the Common to the march route itself, yet what a delight to feel the solidarity. In Boston where community policing models are strong, the officers present were just as friendly as always, not dressed in SWAT gear as in some places where we have seen protest, but their usual charming selves as we protesters stayed peaceful and loving. Many signs were about choosing love over hate. It was a hopeful march,and gave me much energy to think about what good we can all do together if we harness it all toward political activism and truly work for equality for all, to protect civil rights for those gains already made, and to work for further improvement of the good for those who still lack the fullest participation in the American dream.