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July 6, 2017

Rallies are Losing their Novelty—Now What?

I did not grow up in a protesting household. Let’s face it, I didn’t grow up in a protesting decade.

It was the 80s. People were happy about banana clips. Ronald Reagan, who once starred in a movie opposite a monkey, was president. I mean, even most of the music was optimistic.

In my 20s, I moved to Denver. I got birth control pills at Planned Parenthood. I became passionate about women’s healthcare and family planning. I educated and marched and fundraised and phone-banked. I sat on the Planned Parenthood Young Leaders Advisory Council. I read The War on Choice.

It felt good to pay attention—to learn. I was discovering how I felt about feminism and figuring out where I fit into the movement.

I even became an escort—no, not that kind. The other kind. I wore a bullet-proof vest at 20th and Vine, avoiding the eyes of the protestors and bloody-fetus-poster carriers as I popped up my umbrella and escorted abortion patients into the clinic.

My mom said, “Isn’t there a safer way you could contribute to society?”

My boyfriend said, “Good job.”

My heart said, “Keep going.”

In 2002, I flew to Washington, D.C. last minute to join the March for Women’s Lives. I held a sign, and wore a T-shirt that said: “It’s the Supreme Court Stupid!”

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains arranged my hotel. I slept in the same bed with a stranger; we’re still in touch.

I was privileged and doing fine, and I was fighting for those less fortunate.

Now, I’m in my 40s.

And it’s time to get out there again—and, I did. I marched in February, and again in April. And, then, I went down to Senator Cory Gardner‘s office.

Now, the political climate feels messier and more real—and it matters a hell of a lot more.

But after the latest presidential election, I was terrified, energized, angry, and overwhelmed. We all were.

We posted our photos and made our signs and we were all over Facebook. It felt good to do more than just vote.

We realized that we’d relied on our institutions to save us from Donald Trump, and they had failed us. So we scrambled and organized and called and made posters and went downtown in the middle of the day and took flowers to Muslims.

And we meant every word of it.

Others did even more. They hosted huddles at their house, spoke at rallies, organized letter-writing parties.

And now it’s been over seven months since the election.

And we’re tired. And life has continued. My daughter wanted to take parkour lessons. One of my clients asked me to write 250 bios in three weeks. Summer camps are happening. My father-in-law’s cancer got worse. And my husband started home-brewing kombucha.

The trivial, you see—and the tragic.

Either way, life continued. I got distracted.

Although Trump continues to remind me that our country is a sh*t show, I find less and less time for that daily alert. I archive the emails from Indivisible without reading them.

And I feel guilty.

And I long already for the days when voting was enough.

Because I am spoiled and whiny and so very American. I’m not used to having to work so hard for freedom and democracy.

So, first, I stop hating myself. I realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just as I must remember changing a country is difficult, changing a person is no picnic either. I can’t, you see, learn to be a civic leader overnight. I must map out a plan. I must create a sustainable action item list. I must forgive myself for not being a full-time, unpaid activist. I must remind myself that this is a marathon, not a sprint; that kindness is activism, too; that serving, in any way, is a civic action.

And I laugh with joy when my daughter comes home singing, “This land is my land.”

And, when she knows all the words to “Blowin’ in the Wind” and I don’t, I get a little choked up. And I’m relieved that civic spirit is still alive.

And I’m doing my best. Along with everyone else, that’s all I can do.

~

Author: Andrea Enright
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

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