My collage from the former site, Polyvore
Twice in one day, I brushed against people who are annoyed by protesters.
1. The first claimed that after losing the House of Representatives, she would not be protesting as so many others had recently. She had restraint and would acquiesce to the democratic process.
2. The second complained he was tired of people marching and doing nothing.
So, I'd like to address these two. The first I know has walked through tragedy, has been greatly hurt by the church. The second I know works with pediatric cancer patients.
To the Annoyed,
I ask you to tap into the pain you have experienced. Recall the grief and anguish you have bravely walked. Now, without setting aside your politics and belief systems, I ask you to consider this: the folks who are walking, carrying signs, shouting, and gathering are people who have been raped, shot, sexually harassed, denied rights, silenced, marginalized, excluded, bullied, suffered prejudice, are threatened, and more. These are hurting and crying out for their loved ones who have been hurt. They are worried about our earth and its inhabitants.
The marching are gathering because, collectively, they have experienced pain and injustice. Together, they are shouting to be seen and heard for change. Each has dignity and belongs.
I ask you to make yourself vulnerable. Recall your own pain and then lean into theirs. Until you see the individuals, wounded as you have been, there is no room for empathy. There is no compassion and no problem solving. It doesn't matter if the wounds are from the same source or the same line of story. The hurt is common among us.
The marching is not useless and doing nothing. The marching is calling out the pain. It is laying before the social consciousness injustices that must be addressed. It is motivating people to run for office. It is alerting leaders what matters to constituents. It is calling hope to rise from all corners, and it is inciting action for change.
In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh:
"We have to see that we are they and they are us. When we see their suffering, an arrow of compassion and love enters our hearts. We can love them, embrace them and find a way to help. Only then are we not overwhelmed by despair at their situation. Or our own."
My call applies to all in various parties and religious systems. These two people just happened to interact with me this week. The same empathetic action must be engaged by all for all. When our initial reaction is defensiveness, we can turn to wonder, instead.
Lean in. Empathize. Help.