Lessons in Humility: A Peace Offering in the Battle of the Women’s March

I wrote a blog post on Saturday, the day of one of the biggest women’s marches in USA history. I wrote it to my unborn daughter with intention of others reading it as well (obviously). I have read and reread that letter and contemplated on it over the past several days. I have read other articles and talked with close friends on both sides of the women’s marches. After much deliberation I have decided to amend my original letter, more so my original thoughts on the matter. I would link it here but I started editing over the original without thinking I should save it. Thus it is lost in the abyss, maybe it is better that way. 

I have kept some original parts (mostly the first half with a few touchups) but amended most of the letter. Here is how I began:

You are about to be born into a time that is confusing for me as your mother. A time where women around the world are marching against their own President of the United States of America. It scares me to know that you will be born into a time of such unrest, hatred, and disrespect. I want to remind you of some important things to keep in mind as you grow up in this time period.

Before I do let me give you a little background. Yesterday, January 20th, 2017 our 45th President was sworn in and began his Presidency. The time leading up to his election was a time of unrest in our country, and even the entire world. There were two candidates that competed for the coveted seat of President of the United States of America. One was a woman named Hillary Clinton. Her husband served as President for 8 years when I was growing up, she ran for President once and was not elected, and ran again this past year and was again not elected. The other was a man named Donald Trump, a multi-billionaire business man and TV star that decided to run as President, and ultimately he was elected as the President of the United States of America.

It came as a shock to many people that he was elected. Even I thought, “Hillary will probably win”. As I watched the election polls, sitting next to your cute dad on the couch, I felt relief as I watched Trump soar through the polls. It is important to know I also felt relief when Hillary would take a state. This was such a confusing time for me, I didn’t know the best way to vote, I didn’t know what the best outcome would be. I had strong feelings opposing both of the candidates. I tried to be educated on both sides. I flip flopped back and forth time and time again. Each week I would proclaim, “I think I know who my vote is for!”, only to change it the next week. In the end I was was so confused I ended up voting 3rd party. I still don’t know if that was the best decision.

However, my true feelings seemed to ring through my confusion as I watched Trump soar past Hillary in multiple states. I felt relief knowing he would be in and not her. Now I can’t honestly and articulately put my finger on why I felt that way. Perhaps it was the lesser of two evil argument, maybe it was the Republican in me, or possibly it was knowing I couldn’t stand behind a woman that fought for things I completely disagreed with. However I also felt similarly towards Trump, his unpredictable nature made my anxiety rise. I honestly don’t know which would have been a better pick.

Now that you know the background to the election I want to remind you of some important things. My first reminder is to be respectful of the leaders of our country.

Now sweetheart, Donald Trump is not a perfect man. I am still apprehensive to say he will be great, or he will bring change. I am still very unsure of him. He made some big mistakes during his election. He said some comments that were extremely offensive to women, various ethnicities, and to different sexual orientations. He is not perfect by any means, but he is my President now. And for now I will do my best to respect him. If Hillary had been elected, she would be my President, and I would respect her as my President. Respecting the President does not mean you bow down and worship them. It does not require you to align your beliefs and opinions with the President. It also does not mean you blindly follow that person.

Respect for the President of the United States of America is respect for your country and the people who inhabit it. It is to respect the office of our leader. The people spoke, the people wanted change, the people wanted Trump. Sweet daughter if I teach you anything it will be to respect your leaders, elders, parents, grandparents, peers, and anyone you interact with. I want to add that this does not stand if someone abuses that power in any way. Some may feel Trump already has or is dangerously close. They could be completely right. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt but I am still skeptical to say he is a suddenly a decent man just because he is the President.

Second, being a woman does not mean you use your title as a woman to demand respect. You carry yourself well and you will have respect from those around you. When you live with positive values and work hard you will have the respect of those around you. Right this moment, as I type this letter, there are millions of women, and men, who are marching peacefully for equal rights. I see no problem with peaceful protests, the reasoning behind it is what I originally had a hard time understanding and standing behind.

(Original statement) As I watched this scene unfold I recoiled within myself. Suddenly the title of woman became something I felt ashamed to hold. I had no desire to be associated with people that walk around disrespecting, peacefully or not, a man who was ELECTED as President. Not only is it disrespectful to him, it feels disrespectful to our own people. I feel bullied into silence because I am a woman. My mind raced with questions. If I share this letter with friends and family and the internet will I be shamed because I am a woman and not aligning my beliefs with what feels like the majority? Does that mean I should be marching just because I am a woman? Is there something I should be believing in that I am missing? Should I be participating in this nationwide two year old tantrum because some people feel they didn’t get their way?

(Amended statement) As I have pondered these questions over the past few days my heart has been softened about how I should answer these. I realized that I did feel shamed into silence by the extremists. There will always be the extreme cards out there and they seem to outshine those who also were there for a quieter and more peaceful purpose.

As I have researched this topic I have realized I CAN (original statement amended from cannot to can)  stand by the women marching around the streets of the world against issues they are passionate about. I CAN support a movement that is peaceful. I CAN support equal opportunity  protests, fair treatment of all people, and standing up for women and men around the world who have been mistreated and wronged. While there are some other issues I do not agree with or fully support I CAN level with others and try and see their side instead of assuming it’s wrong.

I would like to think being a woman means I am kind enough to give the benefit of the doubt. In this case that means not just others but myself as well. When I originally wrote this I was completely against the marches. I acted rashly and impulsively to something I did not fully understand. That has often been a downfall for me. I have realized I was alienating the women and men in the marches because I felt alienated by them. That’s like when someone slaps you and you immediately slap back without realizing what just happened and WHY it happened.

I did not want my name tainted because I am also a woman. However when I found a common ground to level on, like thinking of issues I would march for, I realized I can stand by my sisters. I may not see eye to eye on every issue but I think the majority of people just wanted to be heard. When I thought about it there were more similarities than differences between those who marched and those who didn’t.

I am a woman who has worked hard in her life to gain respect, just like the next person. A woman who has never felt her rights threatened by men, even by a man who made some crude comments towards women in his election campaign. However I cannot speak for all people and all women. I have been humbled this week to realize my experience is not the only one had by women in America. I was not threatened by the comments of one man, but I quickly realized how many women must have been. Different experiences and circumstances cause different reactions. I would hope that I could offer those women support by reaching out to them instead of pridefully putting myself on a pedastol because I didn’t have the same feelings or experiences they did.

I also got to thinking about how my rights didn’t feel threatened because of all the people who have marched before me for a cause that no longer affects me. It no longer affects me because someone took a stand. Now, generations later, it doesn’t even occur to me the blood, sweat, and tears that went into a particular right I have and hold so precious.

I am a woman who is grateful for her rights and the people who made those rights possible. I am a woman who can vote, drive, speak openly, go to college, get a masters degree, work a full time job, and so much more. I am a woman strong enough to know that I have great worth and potential. I am a woman strong enough to know that I won’t be bulldozed by men because I already have the rights I need to stand up for myself if that were to happen. We live in a country where we have SO many wonderful freedoms to enjoy. I am thankful for those who have helped those rights come to pass.

I am grateful my daughter does not have to grow up thinking she is less of a person than a man because she simply is not. I am grateful that she will not have to grow up thinking she is superior to someone with different skin, looks, or beliefs than her, because she simply is not.

Finally, it is wonderful to be passionate about things. It is wonderful to have strong feelings and opinions. But please, please remember to listen to all sides. If I have learned anything from this experience it is to be humble and to be teachable. Try and open your mind to more than just your point of view.

Do your research, before you are swayed one way or another. Stand up for your beliefs in a kind way. You can disagree politely, but be respectful so you don’t ruin your friendships. By doing so people will only love and respect you more. Think through your choices thoroughly, do not let others sway you one way just because they are a friend, family member, or famous.

It is good to have some pride. Pride for your country, your freedom, your family, your values, your religion, your schools, your name. However, don’t become so caught up in your title of “woman” that you feel you deserve extra attention or superior treatment. Instead be proud of your title or “woman” because it means you are fierce, strong, loyal, humble, loving, and so much more. It is ok to be confused, it is ok to be scared of big movements. I still don’t think I would have participated in the march but I definitely would have approached my opinions and views differently by listening to all sides first. I would have been supportive of those that did march instead of choosing to turn my nose up towards them. And I like to hope that by showing my support I could have received some for how I was feeling in return. That by mutually supporting one another, despite our differences, our country could grow a little closer and spread love a lot faster.

The title of “woman” is something I hold so dear and sacred. It reminds me to be calm, to be loving, to be nurturing, to show strength, to be smart, to be respectful, and to think for myself. The title of “woman” means I can do anything good. As long as my will and purpose aligns with goodness I know I can be a part of the movement that makes this country great again.

Humbly,

Karla

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