by Joanie Butman
While watching the women’s march in NYC last month, the witticisms of the signs had me laughing out loud – initially. While I can’t deny their cleverness, their crassness offended me. What’s more, if a man used any of them, he would be accused of being a sexist. For example, one sign urged, “It’s Time to Ovary-act.” A man would be tarred and feathered for carrying a sign touting, “Stop Ovary-acting!” Hasn’t history taught us you can’t defeat something by mimicking the very thing you are fighting against? One of the purest signs was carried by a young girl, “Tweet others as you want to be tweeted.” Amen sister! Yet that was not what I witnessed. There were plenty of on-point posters, but those were eclipsed by ones using words and phrases too crude to post. Sadly, the optics overpowered the intended message.
A political pundit I’m not. My political views matter to no one. However, I am grateful to live in a country where I enjoy the freedom to have one, and to express it if I so choose. That being said, I firmly believe we can share beliefs, opinions AND protests respectfully without vitriol or vulgarity, sticking to issues not body parts. If the goal is to rise above sexism and “locker room” talk, we might further our cause by example, not by lowering ourselves to speak the very language we despise.
The young girl with the tweeting sign was on the right track, pointing back to the basics taught by Jesus to, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Known as the Golden Rule, it is one of the few fundamental beliefs that all humans can agree on. Jesus was and continues to be the champion for the underdog. In His day “He denounced the rich and powerful and lifted up the poor, the nobodies, and the rejects of society.” He opposed every social injustice of His time with grace, humility, dignity and respect regardless of how He was treated. I believe we as a nation could benefit from His example. Christ never had to tear others down to build Himself up. It’s why His is called the Upside Down Kingdom – one where the first shall be last.
Our nation is in a frenzy of discontent – and with good reason. If I had no faith, I would be filled with angst for the future. However, I know that love always trumps (pardon the pun) hatred. Knowing God wins in the end enables me to recognize the current political climate, not as the beginning of the end, but as the beginning of much-needed changes. “Indeed, according to that leading theorist of disruptive power, Frances Fox Piven, the ‘great moments of equalizing reform in American political history’ —securing labor rights, expanding the vote, or creating a social safety net—have been directly related to surges of widespread defiance.*
Finally, if you look at some of the great leaders of global change in history (starting with Jesus), they chose to champion their causes peacefully with humility, dignity, grace and singularity of purpose: Ghandi, Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa. I believe we too can achieve social change in the same way.
Choose to treat others as you would like to be treated. It's always the right choice.