Looking for light: Why I’m marching on Washington

Jan 12, 2017 by

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I will awake in the darkness. I will bundle in warm layers to brave the bleak midwinter. I will leave my sleeping husband and three children and board a bus before sunrise.

As the dawn breaks on Jan. 21, I will ride to Washington, D.C., and join tens of thousands of women. Some will be Mennonites, like me. I will do this because I have deep anguish about the darkness gathering over our nation.

My concern over the inauguration of Donald Trump is not about a Republican political agenda. It is about awarding a powerful leadership position to a person who is unapologetically racist, misogynistic and xenophobic.

I refuse to be counted among white evangelicals who betray their sisters and brothers of color. I refuse to be counted among women who downplay the imprint of sexual violence in our culture.

The Women’s March on Washington seeks to bear witness to the Trump administration that women’s rights are human rights. It calls “for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families.” Women represent the intersection of multiple identities, many of which are threatened by the rhetoric of the new administration.

In moments like these I cry out with the psalmist, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night.” Then I hear a reply whispering back in the pitch blackness, “Even the darkness is not dark to me” (Ps. 139:11-12).

I will march because God reveals a glimmer of light.

I will march for myself, as a woman who has felt the weight of a patriarchal community. I will march for my daughters, to prevent them from growing up in an oppressive environment like the one in which their great-grandmothers came of age.

I will march for my personal friends whose fear has increased over recent months and who have been retraumatized: people of color watching hate crime rise, those who identify as gay and lesbian, friends and colleagues from other countries of origin, persons who live with disabilities, undocumented mothers and fathers, women who have endured sexual violence.

I will march so as not to be counted among the quiet in the land.

Operating by the principles of nonviolence in the way of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Women’s March on Washington represents an act of public witness that aligns with my Anabaptist theological convictions. It seeks to meet evil with good, hatred with love, working toward the ultimate goal of reconciliation. It holds up King’s concept of the Beloved Community as an alternative vision to the great America described by Trump.

Dr. King called on the church to transform both individuals and the larger society. It is the church’s responsibility, he believed, to engage in social action and challenge injustice wherever it is found. Led by the Spirit of Christ, we have the power to transform the world through active nonviolent witness. The church has an opportunity to let its light shine in this time of gathering darkness.

Busloads of marchers will arrive from Mennonite communities in Ann Arbor, Bluffton, Cincinnati, Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Goshen, Harrisonburg, Lancaster and Toledo. Some will hold a banner with the name “Mennonites” and the green dove logo.

The number of Mennonites bearing witness to the gospel of peace, justice and reconciliation through this march provides a ray of hope. We will march, and we are not alone. God’s Spirit is with us, and we are with one another as we strain our eyes looking for light in the darkness.

Sarah Bixler is a Ph.D. student in practical theology/Christian education at Princeton Theological Seminary, N.J. She attends Oxford Circle Mennonite Church in Philadelphia.


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