I marched in this weekend’s Women’s March. I marched with my husband, my two sons, and three of my daughters (one double stroller and one single stroller, thanks for asking). I marched with my sister and her husband and their three children. I marched with a friend and her husband and their three boys. I marched with a guy who takes his young daughter to music class with my daughter.
I marched in a small town in New Jersey where they were only expecting a few hundred people to show up at most. Instead, over a thousand people came.
The people who marched were respectful and kind. They obeyed traffic laws. They committed no acts of violence. On the two occasions when there were hecklers, the marchers didn’t answer back, but instead waved and smiled.
Why did I march? And why did I take my children?
For me, my reasons were rooted in my admiration for Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. If you are not familiar with his work, I would suggest you change that. Heschel marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and famously said that when he did so, he felt that his “feet were praying.”
What does it mean, for your feet to pray? It means that your feet are doing the work of your heart. It means that action and intention, hope and deeds, are inextricably woven together. None of us has the right to exist on a purely self-contained, theoretical plane. All of us are responsible for one another.
I, along with the majority of Americans, did not vote for this president. I wanted to march because I wanted him to see me and his constituents, and to hear that our concerns about women’s rights, as well as other civil rights, are only going to get louder. I wanted to be part of a physical presence, strong and powerful and vibrant and dynamic. We disagree with him, but we are still Americans. He may be the president, but he works for us. We live in a free democracy, and we will make sure those rights do not diminish. I wanted to remind him, with my family, that we are here. We cannot and will not be ignored. We are more motivated than ever to make our voices heard.
I want to teach my children that the world is far more than they can see. Their health care options might not be affected by the loss of the Affordable Care Act, for example, but for millions of Americans, its revocation would be devastating. Perhaps my children may not grow up and want to marry someone of the same gender, but surely millions of Americans deserve equal treatment under the law, no matter who they love.
Am I indoctrinating my children? Maybe one day, one or more of my children will turn around and be my political opposite. And so it goes. They will be who they will be—and as a parent, I welcome and will love whomever they turn out to be.
But I will have failed them if I do not teach them the power, no matter what their beliefs, of praying with their feet. I want them to know the power of their voices, and the power of voices when they are raised up together. I want them to know and understand that this is their world, and that while they might not complete the work of healing it, neither are they free to desist from that work.