The march is for sisters, and brothers too.
Terry the farmer, Debby the lab technician, Susan the artist, and Frances the commercial truck driver were all assured of one thing when I got to chat with them on the night after the Women’s March: they were in it for the long haul, they and the sisters they had just marched with in their nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., as well as sisters they’ve never met, who joined in their march in more than 50 countries around the world. Brothers were welcome. But in terms of organization it was a sisters thing.
“They definitely weren’t done just because the march had ended; they weren’t quitting and going home.”
I wanted to know what they were marching for, why they had dedicated so much of their time to get to the national mall, spend an entire day there, then return home. I wanted to know how much it had cost them in time and effort, and how much more it would cost after this. They told me they had marched for many causes, embracing issues from the protection of the natural environment to fairness in the practice of criminal justice. They had marched for themselves, and they had marched on behalf of everyone else who was concerned about things going wrong in the world, and wanted to see things go right and better everywhere. And because there is no human heart that does not long for a better world, they know that more than any single thing, their march had been a march for unity.
They definitely weren’t done just because the march had ended; they weren’t quitting and going home. They had all been challenged, and had all made a commitment to find each her own intentional entry into an ongoing program of work that would produce the better world they all know is possible even though they could not quite describe in this moment. They are not quitters. Then are in it for the long haul.
Frances knows what “the long haul’ means. She’s been driving 32,000-pound behemoths on America’s highways since 1972. And the nation needs her kind. In 2014 the trucking industry needed 38,000 more drivers than it could find to traverse the more than 400 billion miles it takes to transport 70% of the nation’s freight and nearly $700 billion worth of the manufactured and retail goods that Americans consume. So Frances already has enough to do for work. But now she has more than work: she has a cause.
The nation needs sisters of Frances’ kind, and Debby’s and Susan’s and Terry’s kind. I cannot identify with all their causes. But the nation and the world need brothers and sisters of the marching kind because there is a haul, a long, long haul that leads to a better place than the Women’s March. America and the world need people who live for more than earning cash for food, or earning enough to park their Lear jets in St. Maarten in December and sail to St. Barthes for sophisticated and extravagant New Year’s Eve celebrations. The nation and the world need individuals who will commit to a cause that is bigger than our individual selves: a cause that reaches beyond our threescore plus 10, or fourscore years. The nation and the world need and deserve our individual and concerted commitment to a cause that transcends 250-mile journeys like the one that brought Terry from her farm in Wisconsin to Frances’ house in Indiana; or the 560-mile trip they all then undertook to arrive at their Maryland destination to join other hundreds of thousands in a march for causes of goodness and justice and unity.
Frances and friends measure the long haul in quadrennial terms. But the long haul for truth, honesty, justice, purity and beauty (see Phil. 4:8) is a haul so long that it never will end. Saints of passion for the right, and sisters and brothers for the ultimate good have marched for this cause for ages now. As they march they wave the otherworldly idealism of their banners and slogans, and raise the joy of their full-throated songs for people of every nation, kindred, language, and ethnicity to hear and catch the passion too. In the 18th century a schoolmaster’s son organized lyrics that capture our cause: “Come we that love the Lord and let our joys be known. . . . We’re marching upward to Zion the beautiful city of God.”
The more than 50 countries participating took their lead from America. And America may well be the greatest experiment in human government that Planet Earth will ever see. But it is still earth. It is still the place that uniquely represents the difference between the idyllic perfection for which humanity was conceived, designed, and established and the tragic idea that God’s intelligent creation, endowed with the power of decision, is capable of doing better by making wrong choices. Our planet is the unique location in all God’s universe where volitional beings have dedicated their genius, energies and resolve to demonstrate that as creatures we are capable of creating our own ever more perfect paradise.
By now we have seen enough to recognize the flaws of such a notion. And the God of our creation has made inexhaustible provision for humanity to experience personal and collective rediscovery of the flawless idyll of His flawless design for much more than quadrennial seasons. His program is eternal; nor is it a gendered thing: God’s ideal is as much for man as it is for woman, as much for brother as it is for sister. His plan is that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. “Whosoever” means all and sundry: the march is for sisters, and brothers too.