I missed the January Women’s March in Austin, but I net stalked marches around the nation, feelings of pride mixed with a little envy. They inspired me and I wanted to be there. The recent election has spurred me to activism. I had been lulled into complacency by the previous 8 years. As a single mom working in construction, women’s issues of equal pay, protection against violence, fair treatment are paramount. The previous administration was better than most about women’s issues. Even when I didn’t agree, I didn’t complain. I reasoned that good results mitigated questionable actions: the end justified the means.
Since January, I have called my members of Congress and the White House so often that I put their phone numbers on speed dial. Dammit, they are my representatives whether I voted for them or not. I believe in communicating with my elected representatives. My son Jack laughed when he listened to a call to the Bush White House. (Mom! I’m going to come home to Secret Service agents in our driveway.) (I don’t threaten violence. I just want them to know I don’t agree.) (Oh, I am sure they know YOU don’t agree with him. But saying you don’t think he’s stupid, you just think he’s having bad luck thinking is kind of mean.) (But not unconstitutional.)
Bob and I have different political opinions so it’s been a revelation to me that I can disagree with someone and still love them. And vice versa. I considered not telling him that I was going to attend the March for Science here in Corpus Christi. I didn’t want him to challenge my opinions and say something silly like, “I don’t think you should go.” It wouldn’t have stopped me, but it would have been contentious.
I underestimated him as usual. When I asked him to trim down the 36″ survey lathe I’d brought from the shop, he asked why. I said, a little louder than I intended, “I am going to carry a sign at the March for Science on the bayfront.” He only asked how long I wanted it. He didn’t want to cut off the pointed end since he thought I’d need it to fight my way out. I told him it wasn’t that kind of march.
I expected that there would be fewer than 50 people at the March for Science. I generally believe everyone believes what I believe; I am often disappointed and underwhelmed by public response. The march started at 10 so I left early just in case I had a hard time finding parking. I was excited when I saw a crowd gathered at the Selena Memorial where the march was scheduled to start and had to drive 3 blocks down Ocean Drive to find parking.
I proudly carried my sign and walked to the starting point with 15-20 people like me, lofting their signs high. The crowd accumulated over the next 30 minutes, a mixture of kids and adults. There was a fair share of college students and retirees. By the time we took off, walking toward the C. C. Museum of Science and History, I would guess we had 300 folks walking. People waved, cars honked, and tourists along the seawall fell in with us. By the time we rounded the water garden and made it to the shade trees behind the museum, we’d picked up another 100 walkers.
We had several speakers, leaders in the community and students who were promoting STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) programs, encouraging young people at the march to consider science careers. It was as far removed from 1970’s anti-war marches as the Catholic Church of my youth was from snake wielding Pentecostal religions. It was a toned down rally, not much jeering, no alt-right assailants, no police called. Like many of the adults there, I could have brought grandchildren.
I walked back to my car feeling energized, chatting with a group of college kids who walked in the same direction. A few were Bernie fans, a few had voted for Trump. I asked one Trump voter why he’d supported Trump but participated in the March for Science. Secretly, I suspected he was there for extra credit. His reply: “I don’t have to be 100% for him. I want to have kids and have a clean earth, but I thought he’d bring good changes. And maybe he will.” The most vocal Bernie supporter growled, rolled his eyes, and quickened his step to catch up with walkers ahead of us. My Trump friend muttered an expletive and glared at his friend’s departing back.
Oh well. Being friends with Bob, whose politics are 150 degrees away from mine, could be hard. Being married to one of them could be even harder. What I’ve learned is that there is truth to both sides. There’s also plenty deception to spread around. Loving Bob makes me research some of the claims he states as truth; loving him permits me to share what I’ve learned to extent he wants to hear it. As GE told me when she was a high school CX debater, “Not everyone is a bleeding heart liberal like you. Everyone doesn’t HAVE to agree with you.”