Women Warriors Join Arms
Just after the unimaginable election results in November, I wrote a column about hope, saying its always darkest before the dawn and that we needed a wake-up call from our collective lethargy to bring real change that helps those who are suffering from inequality. As an antidote to angst, I counselled turning off social media, getting into nature, enjoying art, and practicing mindfulness.
Oh, that I could follow my own advice. In the weeks leading up to Jan. 20, I stayed riveted to whatever screen was closest, thinking and hoping that somehow that day would never come. I just could not get enough of Donald J. Trump’s antics. I gave my power to him, waking up in the morning to see what outrageous tweet he had sent that day. Then checking the media outlets to see how they responded. Then posting my favorites, engendering comments, engaging, and occasionally battling with people who trolled my thread. I would repeat it right before bed, which sometimes meant spending another hour or two online.
I’ve never done heroin, but they say the addiction is so heavy that nothing else matters in pursuit of the next high. This is the only thing I can compare my affliction to. The apotheosis was when I learned how to push Donald’s tweets to me. Now I wouldn’t have to waste precious seconds going to Twitter to see if he posted. The crack pipe was in my hand and ready for inhaling every time he tweeted.
I thought it was cool and efficient at first, but like an addict, every time I got a ping, much as I tried, I could not resist being drawn into that opiate of outrageous and offensive behavior. It was an instant dopamine rush that would disrupt my train of thought, simultaneously delight and enrage me, and inevitably send me down the rabbit hole of obsession.
Getting out in nature did less good than I thought as I usually had the phone by my side, checking one way or another what was going on. And in the weeks leading up to the inauguration, what with cabinet appointments, confirmation hearings, ongoing intelligence investigations, and Trump’s incessant tweets, the carnival of news was compressing in intensity and frequency. A familiar rash returned that usually signals stress.
He survived issuing racist comments, sexual-predator allegations, lack of financial transparency and Russia’s intervention to help him win the election. And then the darkest of days arrived.
He delivered what conservative columnist George Will called “the most dreadful inaugural address in history,” first by denigrating the past presidents in attendance and then by painting a dire picture of America. He cited a country mired in poverty, unemployment and violence, indexes that in fact all improved under the administration of his predecessor. It was the dourest of days, punctuated here at home by dark clouds, wind, rain, and a roiling ocean. A portentous sign.
Miraculously, on Saturday, the clouds parted, the sun shined and at Main Beach 4,000 people showed up for the Laguna women’s rally. As many as 5 million others marched in 60 countries and 673 cities worldwide. Many people said it was the most inspirational day of their lives. Five million people came together as one force and sang, chanted, dressed up, danced, held signs, held hands, and confirmed that “the people, united, will never be defeated.”
Here in Laguna it was a hometown affair hastily organized by fierce woman warriors, in part to counter the ugly and aberrant racial incident that preceded it. Our town needed healing. They enlisted KX 93.5’s help, pulled permits so quickly it would make any architect’s head spin, and put on a dazzling affair of entertainment, speeches, and action plans.
This was a potent exercise of freedom. Women locked arms, led the charge, and imagined a post-patriarchal society of love, compassion, tolerance and equality.
It was so beautiful, heart-opening and inspiring that for one shining day, we took our power back, and social media was flooded, not with alternative facts, but with inspirational pictures of luminous women around the globe who drowned out the negative drone of fear, division and hate.
It was a clearing for me. And I take solace in knowing that any attempt to violate human rights will be met with protests so forceful that members of Congress will fear for re-election and hopefully stop bad things from happening. Because on Saturday, Jan. 21, we experienced the amazing, united, international tribe of powerful, conscious and awake women. The mothers and their daughters. The creators. The protectors. Thank you, ladies. You make us feel safe. I know I can beat this affliction now. I’m in rehab already. Peace.
Billy Fried hosts “Laguna Talks” on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. on KX 93.5, and can be reached at [email protected]