This weekend, I joined millions of citizens across the nation and in the world in standing up and being counted to bring attention to the pressing issues of our day in the wake of the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. Before I share in more detail why I marched, let me make it clear exactly what DID NOT drive me to the march. I did not march out of anger or to protest the results of the election. I did not march because I was paid or a celebrity told me to do it. No, these are the reasons the supporters and propagandists of the Trumpian machine will spill out on the airwaves and internet to try and discredit this historic day. They will try and focus the attention on small moments or alternative facts to cloud and obscure the true meaning of the march. Therefore, I feel compelled to share with you the reasons why I was moved to stand up with my family and walk in solidarity with my community at the Women’s March in San Jose, California.
First, I walked to represent my patients and their families who in many cases are in danger of losing access to high quality health care that was ushered in by the Affordable Care Act. I think of the young men and women with chronic illness who could stay on their parent’s insurance, or the middle-aged small businessman who got his first colonoscopy and caught a pre-cancerous polyp. Without the ACA in place, these stories and lives could have ended up much differently. As a concerned physician, I ask every citizen not to be fooled by the Twitter proclamations that everyone will still be covered; the future will likely include barriers to care that it will make it more difficult for our most vulnerable of patients. Or even worse, drop them out of coverage and benefits all together. I marched to make sure my patients’ voices would be heard.
Second, I marched for my family and two children. I marched to support my wife, a working mother who has fought tooth and nail for her career as a physician economist. I marched to say no to misogyny that objectifies women and focuses on their physical qualities instead of their character and intellect. I walked with my six-year-old daughter on my shoulders to lift her up and show her what a strong woman can do and walked hand-in-hand with my son to show how we fight against injustice and stand up to bullies.
Third, I walked through the streets for our planet Earth. The degradation of science and denying the facts of Global Warming and Climate Change will put our world in great danger. With upcoming changes in policy and abandoning the Paris Agreement, we will return to the pumping of fossil fuels instead of harnessing renewable energy and push our climate to a point of no return. We cannot accept a future where we tell our grandchildren how we did not act when it was still possible to make a change.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, I marched for our nation and its future. The current administration’s rise to power has been fueled by pitting groups in our society against one another. Creating these divisions through hate and fear will continue to move many to blindly follow while injustice and oppression are committed to our fellow brothers and sisters. We as a nation cannot raise up those forgotten during the recent economic recession by blaming those who had nothing to do with it (i.e. blaming immigrants instead of bankers). We as a nation cannot accept nationalism and protectionism as false equivalents to patriotism. We as a nation cannot accept the sacrifice of our rights and freedoms to combat false enemies. We as a nation cannot give up on the freedom of the press and its instrumental role in holding all accountable for their actions. We as a nation cannot ignore the constitution and hold our representatives accountable to do their jobs as a check and balance to the administration. And finally, we as a nation cannot give up our freedom of speech and assembly and proclaim our rights as citizens. Because if we do, we may never be able to march again.