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Wednesday
Apr122017

« 10 Ways Rallies and Marches Can Move Us toward a Better Planet »

credit: Alma Sheppard MatsuoRallies and marches have increased since the U.S. election of 2016. This month alone, major marches and rallies are planned on Saturdays, April 15, 22, and 29. A Tax March on the 15th, Tax Day, aims to tell Trump that 74% of the public want him to release his taxes. In addition to the march in Washington, D.C., satellite marches will be held around the country.  A March for Science is scheduled for April 22, Earth Day, in Washington, D.C., with satellite marches around the country. Check online to see what your area is doing. Then, a week later, a People’s Climate March is scheduled in Washington, D.C., and again satellite marches will be happening around the country. I’ll be at the one in Oakland, CA. Juanita, my spouse, has been actively involved in planning the one here in San Diego. Last Saturday I went with her to my first ever “Art Build”—a gathering of people for a day of creating butterfly and sunflower placards with ecological messages. Banners were being painted. Drums being built and drumming practiced. Lots of fun and conversation in anticipation of a big day of speaking with Earth instead of against her.

Rallies and marches with art, placards, puppets, testimonials, music, and drumming are full of energy and self-expression. But do they really bring change? Do they really help us move out of the excesses destroying so much life and health on the planet? Or, are they ineffective activities that mostly help us feel better? These are vital questions for us always, but they have become urgent now with a national government being led by people who are anti-science, anti-climate change, anti-immigrant, anti-voter registration, anti-equality of sexes, anti-equality of access to good education, and more.

I’m thinking that rallies effectively achieve at least 10 important things. 

  1. They bring together people of like mind. Participants are often surprised by the number of people who show up. How encouraging it is to see many others have similar thoughts or concerns to our own. Inevitably, we see others who we’re surprised to see there. The shared experience brings a new dimension into our conversations and relationship.
  2. They add more talking points to the ones we already use. All of need new talking points and better ways to say things. Speakers, placards, and information at rallies often give us those.
  3. They add energy to our conviction that a better society is possible. We believe that society can be more just, moral, and sustainable than what MultiEarth ways offer. Rallies can refill our energy tank, and help us get past the doubts that we can’t make a big enough difference to matter. 
  4. They bring new people into the mix. Invariably, people who’ve never gone to a rally before show up because they’ve been provoked by something. Perhaps it is a political act that’s too far out, or an experience of injustice on their job, or the refusal of medical care they need. So, for the first time, they go to a rally and feel they’ve found advocates for their struggle and pain.
  5. They move concern for an issue into actions to change it. Speakers and organizations share needed know-how on lobbying legislators and decision-makers, moving money out of a megabank to a local bank, and other important actions.
  6. They expose participants to organizations new to them.
  7. They grow involvement in organizations through sign-up lists. Volunteers and staff in those organizations are right there, fully accessible for conversation about what they do. Even if we don’t sign-up, we can learn much more about how an organization fuels the movement for change. 
  8. They may generate media coverage. For all its pitfalls, media coverage of a rally can show far more interest in what the rally is about than the public would otherwise conclude.
  9. They bring together various sectors of society. Artists, activists, academics, immigrants, and laborers come together. At the best rallies, people of all races and faiths join in common cause. Crossing over the sectors of society we are in and joining with other sectors brings new consciousness and solidarity.
  10. They offer a platform and a receptive audience to people who can testify to how they benefitted from the movement. Stories of how activism changed a policy and thereby helped people rise to fuller humanity, fuller dignity and wellbeing are a huge benefit of a rally.

Let’s get to these two marches this month. They are great ways to celebrate Earth Day. Let’s see who shows up, see what we can learn, and engage representatives from some of the organizations. My sense is that many prophetic voices can be heard this month.

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