By Joanna Bastian
I did not attend the Women’s March on Saturday.
I had a million lame excuses to stay home: I didn’t know what it was all about, the president was already elected, there were loads of laundry to wash, a house that needed cleaned, articles to be written, I don’t like crowds. Ask me why I wasn’t planning on attending and I could name off any number of avoidance reasons.
But after the march was done and it was too late to participate, I read the Facebook post of a childhood friend. I met her at summer camp when we were 8 years old. We grew up in the same church, became first-year college roommates. I was her bridesmaid in her wedding, and helped plan her first baby shower. Her post read, “The ultimate demonstration a woman can make is in the closet on her knees. The feminist movement is a humanist movement. Don’t be deceived ladies by worldly arguments.”
The excuses I made to not march on Saturday suddenly became feeble, embarrassing. I needed to march because today, in the year 2017, my contemporaries believe that human rights are a “worldly,” that is, “evil” cause. Her post was a reminder of how far I had come from the world I grew up in, and the bigoted, repressive, ignorant beliefs that continue to permeate the voting public.
My mother’s birthday was last week, Jan. 17. Years ago, she passed away from ovarian cancer. During the week of her birthday I can’t help but remember everything about her. How she burst into song during the most mundane of tasks. Her giggles and laughter that were uncontrollable and contagious. She lit up a room when she breezed through the door with her bright smile.
This same beautiful, outgoing woman believed that women who wore pants and makeup were dangerous. That feminists destroyed the moral fiber of the country by encouraging women to work outside the home and get an education. That the pursuit of equal rights and human rights degraded the moral norms of a society. She held these beliefs and taught them to me, until I reached my teen years and counteracted with my own thoughts about human rights and our own moral obligation to provide equal opportunities to everyone in this country.
For several years, our relationship was contentious. And then, she made several courageous changes. She got a job outside the home. She donned pants and makeup. She asked my opinion about human rights, and carefully considered my viewpoints before changing her own. Before she passed, she said to me, “I wish I had your courage. My life would have been so different.”
With that thought, I am going to show my courage. On my blog, www.joannabastian.blogspot.com, I will begin making regular posts about the current issues up for debate that affect us all personally. The short posts will contain an overview of the subject, cite reputable sources, and include email and phone contacts to make your voice heard. I will share transcripts of the emails and voicemails that I send to our representatives. Anyone is welcome to use my words as a boilerplate for their own communications to our representatives.