There are things in life we like and things we don’t. That’s how it goes. But there are some things we care about enough to stand up.
(Three generations of Q’s standing up)
I’ve been hesitant to attend a protest because when I think of protest, I think of large, angry crowds. Occasionally you see footage of a crowd gone bad, and as a somewhat cautious mom, that’s been enough to keep me safely at home. I proposed attending a march not so long ago and my high school son would have none of it.
“Mom, that’s not a good place to be. You never know what’s going to happen. Someone’s going to get triggered and throw a brick through a window. You could get crushed…or arrested.”
When I suggested he go with me, he just gave me the look. I sat that one out.
But for Earth Day another March was scheduled.
All the men in my life have a stake in this one. My dad is the one who taught me to be fascinated by science. At work he dealt with sensors, salinity and pH, with a patent or two for instruments to measure them. In his spare time he studies dragonflies and ants with wonder and astonishment. His father was an inventor who racked up many patents related to plastics. My husband is a trained chemist with interest and expertise in biofuels, though his professional life has taken a different turn. Both my boys enjoy science with Pepere and Daniel’s science teachers have been among his favorites for years now.
This time we would stand up together.
Saturday morning we made our posters and boarded the commuter rail to Boston. Arriving at the Common early gave us an interesting perspective on the rally. We meandered across sparsely populated lawns and chatted with volunteers setting up tables of exhibits and information in the family section. My father stopped to thank many of the officers for their service ahead of the crowds. We strolled through the Boston Public Garden across from the Common and saw a mix of people with signs tucked under their arms (which often elicited a nod of mutual recognition) and some just out for their Saturday walk with dogs of all sizes. I introduced Daniel and my Dad to the Make Way for Ducklings statues for the first time, and eventually we filtered back to the rally.
We found a place atop the hill and watched as people streamed onto the Common from multiple entrances. The open spaces filled in thickly with people. The walking paths were rivers of motion. Where once there had been an expectant pause, now there was kinetic energy. The first raindrops fell and the crowd swelled as if watered instead of deterred. The rain intensified and the marchers pressed closer together. Rivulets of water ran down faces and posters, but still they persisted. The jazzy marching band played on.
As the event ramped up and throughout much of the afternoon, we milled around from the top of the hill overlooking the stage, down through the now-crowded walkways and lawns toward the front, back along the main thoroughfare past the kids’ stage and looping back around. Wherever we went it was the same.
I was struck by it. It wasn’t so much a protest as a groundswell of people who came together to stand up for something they believed in strongly. Their primary personal reasons differed…some were scientists or doctors, other students of science, but I saw several signs that showed that we non-science folks like reading teachers and English teachers also care, as did families who value their children’s health and the vaccinations that protect it, the grandparents who want to preserve a planet for their grandkids. The overall tone was positive and supportive.
Clearly people had concerns–they felt the need to march through the rain.
But there was hope and determination.
And frankly, I am moved by the outpouring in Boston and around the world. Because of it, I too have hope to buoy my determination.