I spent the last few days in Washington, DC with a boatload of amazing women and men committed to women's health and reproductive justice at the National Planned Parenthood Conference. The theme of the conference was "Stronger Together" -- and I left inspired by the work, witness and energy of health care providers, clergy and public policy makers standing together against those trying to turn the clock back on women's health care in this country.
And if I wondered -- even for a minute -- how effective we can actually be as individuals taking that message back "on the ground" where the struggle continues, I wonder no more. I wonder no more because of this story from my friend Katie in Fort Worth, Texas -- a story I read on my Facebook page in the cab leaving the "Stronger Together" conference. A story I'm grateful she gave me permission to share. Katie writes:
Driving home to Fort Worth yesterday from Dallas I stopped to get gas at the Kroger on Lamar at I-30. This Kroger has three lines of pumps and cars pull up to both sides.
So the man standing on the opposite side of the pump from me finishes filling up his car. Then he walks around and does an exaggerated double take when he sees my Wendy Davis for Governor bumper sticker. He says in a sarcastic tone of voice, "So you are supporting Abortion Barbie?"
I look at him and say, "Excuse me?"
He replies, looking around at the other cars to make sure other people can hear him. "I said, "Do you really support Abortion Barbie?"
I said, "If you are speaking of Wendy Davis, yes, I am a strong supporter of hers, and your remarks are not only uninformed, they are incredibly offensive."
Well, he rears back to reply but before he can say anything, the woman at the pump in front of his says, 'Yes, it's incredibly offensive."
And then the woman at the pump across the driveway says, "And I'm offended too, and I wasn't even sure I was going to vote for her. Probably will now."
So I look at him and say, "Well?"
He got in his car and left. I turned to the other women and we all exchanged thumbs up. It was, to say the least, a moment!
That's what "stronger together" looks like. It looks like standing up for what you believe in at the gas pump at a Kroger deep in the heart of Texas.
It means speaking truth in the face of the lies and distortions of those who are so convinced they have sole access to the absolute truth that they don't have to worry about actual facts.
And it means supporting each other in the struggle to challenge those using women's reproductive health as a bargaining chip in the game of patriarchal politics.
We better than that. We are smarter than that. And -- together -- we are stronger than that.
And if you forget that -- even for a minute -- then remember Katie at the Kroger. And go and do likewise.