Last week I wrote about the grief I feel for the state of my nation (the United States) and of the world. A few days later one of my favorite writers, Katha Pollitt, asked why we are not all in the streets all the time, keeping alive the enormous energy that came together in the first of the women’s marches against Trump and that continued for several months thereafter in protests women’s rights, for immigrants, for the planet.
After reading Pollitt’s essay, I thought: we should be weeping and wailing in the streets. Instead of pink hats we should be wearing black, the color of mourning. But then I pulled myself up short. In the symbolism of our Old Europe, black is the color of rebirth and regeneration: the dark place where seeds must be placed if they are to germinate, the color of rich and fertile earth. If we are going to protest the racism of the Donald and his followers, we must be careful not to repeat the Indo-European binary in which light is associated with truth and goodness, while the devil and all that is evil is dark.
Nonetheless, I like the idea of acknowledging our grief for all that is being lost publicly and with others. We need to weep and wail together. It will do no good to hold back our tears for millions of species facing extinction, for children who are hungry, dirty, and unable to sleep in detention camps at the borders of our nation, for so much greed, for so much hatred, for so many injustices.
In a prayer poem in Woman and Nature, Susan Griffin speaks of “all that we have suffered, all that we have lost” and “all that we know.” I imagine that in coming together to acknowledge our grief, we might also touch the core of knowing that could guide us to find a better way.
I agree with Katha that we need to take to the streets. I also feel deeply within me the futility of simply repeating the marches of the past. Yes, we have been inspired by speeches, but we have also been bored–and sometimes divided–by them. The power in coming together is not measured by the words that we hear – except in the unusual circumstances of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
The power in our coming together is in the fact that we have come together. It is in the intangible feeling of being part of something bigger than ourselves, of knowing that we are not alone.
I have a dream that women come together in our millions wearing the colors of birth, death, and regeneration: red, white, and black. We are encouraged to mourn, to weep and wail, together, for all that has been lost and is being lost. We are led in singing, singing for our lives, and in dancing, dancing our connection to the earth and to each other. Song and dance have built communities and held them together from time immemorial. With joy in our bodies and with beauty inside us and around us, we can call a new world into being.
This montage from a march that occurred in 2004 suggests how it can be done. When I first saw the video, I thought that all of the speakers were together on the stage leading the song. What if they had been? What if instead of learning to knit, we all learned songs before the march? What if we linked arms and swayed together in our millions? What if we let go of all our inhibitions and danced together? What if instead of marching, we held hands and snaked our way through the streets? And if we need words too, what if we let them be the words of poets and writers who inspire us?
A different world is possible. I can feel it calling to us.
Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator currently living in Pachia Ammos, Crete. Carol’s recent book written with Judith Plaskow, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology, is on Amazon. A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess is on sale for $9.99 on Amazon. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.
Listen to Carol’s a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry recorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parliament of World’s Religions.