The Rapidian

My fellow Grand Rapidians, we can't afford to remain silent

To my community, my reflections and thoughts post Washington, D.C. March

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Please, do not be upset with those who raise their voices against the injustices in our country, for that is the truest form of democracy. Following my attendance to the Women’s March on Saturday, January 21 in Washington, D.C., I am feeling empowered to continue these conversations here at home, in Grand Rapids, MI. 

Millions of my fellow men, women and children descended upon the Capitol, and around the globe, to stand in solidarity for human, women’s, disability, native and African-American rights; for healthcare access, women’s issues, LGBTQ non-discrimination, climate change, more open and accepting immigration policies, education, religious non-discrimination and so much more. It may seem confusing (and scary) to some, as not all of these issues directly affect everyone, but all of these issues matter in some way, big or small, to our communities and within our conversations.  The discussion is not about “I," it is about “We." These issues matter; they cannot be taken lightly. These issues are fundamentally important to We, as a society and as an evolving species coexisting upon this planet. The continued threat (and usage) of racist, misogynistic and homophobic rhetoric by our leaders and those in power threatens us all. Hate speech, name-calling, bullying and gender discrimination should never be allowed to become a norm, nor to be downplayed or given defense. 

As a community, we cannot grow and improve if we are unable to empathize with the plight of others around us. A foundation of openness, compassion and a willingness to see that we all have struggles. Every living, breathing, thinking human on this earth has a story to tell; experiences that have shaped them and their beliefs, and every story is important to the composition of a community, be it local or global. These peaceful Women’s Marches cannot be ignored nor mocked; the sheer numbers of those strong, concerned individuals whom turned their words into action, in over 600 cities worldwide, confirms that we are willing to stand up and fight, regardless of how much work still needs to be done. 

As inspired and hopeful as I am "post-march," I am still aware that the need for compassion and activism is more important now than ever. I implore you, dear reader, to commit to taking action in the face of hatred, on the muddy hills of discrimination, the scales of inequality, the forefront of climate denial, the spin-zone of “alternative facts." Stand up for those around you who's voices may not be as loud as yours, whose conviction may not have the ability to be as strong, who have suffered silently throughout their lives in shadows of the brash and arrogant. Simply be kind to your fellow human beings, act with dignity and morality. Try and see life through their eyes, with sympathy and empathy. I urge, nay implore, you to promote the growth of our local businesses, and to support our charities and nonprofits who fervently fight for each of us on a daily basis, without expectation or need for awards and acclimation. After all, each of us are generations of immigrants or natives, who’ve sought refuge in America, in this land of the free and home of the brave. We have made Grand Rapids our dwelling, our abode, and all of us have the right to make it for us, by us and through us. May we continue to build on the dreams of the generations before us, and that which we hold dear in our hearts - that all men (and women, of course) are created equal on this journey of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“If I were to remain silent, I'd be guilty of complicity.” ― Albert Einstein.

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