This is how you should feel. This feeling of hope, of connection and of purpose after the #WomensMarch. This is our light.
The world was getting better, slowly but surely. Compared to our mothers and grandmothers we had more protections, more respect and more choices. And we held that delicate progress dear, like a glittering little flame to hand onto our daughters. "Take care" we could have said as our cupped hands touched theirs and we passed on our fragile freedoms "don't let the fire go out, it's been so very hard to light".
But then an unexpected wind began to blow. A wind of foul air and bitter taste. One light began to flicker - a light of respect - that although sexual harassment was still widespread and pernicious, at least it wasn't glorified by those who sought power. But normalizing the language of assault as just 'locker room talk' blew out that light. For many of us, the shock of it can still be felt. Then the wind grew further and threatened our healthcare, civil rights, protection from pollution, contraception and abortion, our climate, disability rights, LGBTQIA freedoms, decency and compassion for others. One after another the wind has sought to extinguish our hard won light of rights and respect. And across the world, even though he is not our President, many of us felt the wind creep under the door and through the cracks in our different societies. And those of us outside the USA have shivered. Not because the USA is in danger of becoming the worst for women, but because it's supposed to be the best. America should be the shining beacon for women everywhere, especially those suffering the worst fears, violence and imprisonment of the soul. Our abused sisters around the world are supposed to look to America and think, my subjugation can not be the normal way of the world, if women in America can live with such freedom.
The wind shakes the very foundations of those freedoms. Because if hate, inequality and sexual aggression in word or deed is normalized; then love, equality and freedom automatically decline.
In November many of us felt defeated by it all. Not because of an election cycle or mere Republicans versus Democrats - that is just politics. We shook because of the foul wind that had begun to blow throughout society. Because of mockery of the disabled, because of "grab her by the pussy", because of threats to register religious belief and build walls between neighbors. Or even more than that, because of chants of hate, spitting vitriol and the aggrandizement of the worst.
And that sense of defeat easily could truly have defeated us. We could have hidden, clutching our lights to ourselves in protection. Trying to weather the storm in increasing fear and hopelessness as light after light blinked out around us.
But we did not hide and we did not fear. Instead, we knitted pink hats. Silly, fun, kittenish pink woolen hats. The most feminine of symbols. For many of us it was the first time we had knitted in years, being too busy running our lives, our companies and our families. For many of us it was the first time we had worn pink in years, as we usually worry about the 'tyranny of pink' in our daughters toys. For almost all of us - it was the first time we'd dressed as a pussy in public.
And we marched, physically in over 600 cities around the world and with millions more joining virtually by following, sharing and supporting through social media. With our hand-knitted hats and home-made banners, even decades hence a photo from the Women's March will be instantly recognizable.
We gasped in surprise to see how many marched with us, and then surprise turned to silent awe as we realized how many, how very many, across the world had joined us. We laughed with delight for the first time in months. We chanted and gossiped and shared photo's and food. We may have been the largest ever global protest in history. And all the millions of us acting with grace and friendship rather than fear or violence.
And it's important that we did not gather to support a leader or new face of opposition. We had wonderful organizers and speakers, but they did not direct us and we did not hand them our power. We gathered in support of ourselves and each other. Not one light, but millions and millions of them. Not one hero or savior but an army of heroines. There is no weak link in our chain, no focus point that could be toppled, no true ring-leaders or candidates to attack. No one light that if extinguished will plunge us to darkness.
Because we are a blazing sea of light. We are the happy heroines of our own story. With your pink hat and placard as you marched, or your keyboard and kind-heart as you posted and liked. Or even your regret that you weren't there when you first heard about the march. You are all heroines, and your story has only just begun.
And when the foul wind tells us "you are too weak to withstand this storm" as it will whisper tomorrow and for years to come, then our millions of voices will rise as one to sing "WE ARE THE STORM".