When my coworker and I bored our way through the mass of a hundred thousand people, we found ourselves in the middle of the Smithsonian sculpture museum. It was just off Independence Ave., one of the main roads of the Women’s March, and there was plenty of walking room within the donut shaped building.
I’ve never quite witnessed something like the march. What surprised me wasn’t the sheer number of people. It was their message.
And isn’t that what strikes our inner cords hardest – an ideology we can resonate with? It’s what sends Hungarians to the streets after so many football wins. It’s what gathers millions of women for a day of marching. Hell, it’s what got Donald Trump elected.
Funny, then, how this rallying of people can appear in different ways with different sentiments. At Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, hundreds of thousands of people gathered for an idea – an absolute. The day after, millions of men and women marched against that absolute. I would argue the most passionate people are the ones who have arrived at their own absolutes, or identify with another’s.
It seems when a message is strong enough, it’ll rally an entire nation. Such was the case for Trump’s election. And when a message is controversial enough, it will ignite opposition. Such was the case for the ensuing Women’s March.
But the people in support or opposition of a message differ, too. My day at the Smithsonian African American History and Culture Museum showed me as much: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X clearly supported equal rights for all, and white supremacist groups opposed them.
What seems like a confusing array of messages, a jumble in the all-consuming gray area, is made clearer by one truth: there are no absolutes. We all arrive at our own individual truths, absolutely.
And the violation of this truth always meets opposition, whether you refuse people of color equal access to all facilities, deny climate change, push ignorance.
Demean women, ban Muslims, build a wall.
It was a strange thing reporting on the Women’s March. I found myself wanting to ditch my camera gear, grab a hat and go. I wanted to apologize for not linking arms with the people beside me.
I wonder if there will be a similar march in the future. Who knows where this nation is going. It makes me wonder – where have we been?