Yesterday I sat as I am sure many of you did, watching the television with my head in my hands. Donald Trump was sworn in to be the 45th President of the United States of America and it wasn’t a cheese related nightmare. This is real life. I listened as he made his speech and my heart sank. I was momentarily relieved from this pit of despair by internet memes because if we didn’t laugh, well….
Today when I got up and looked at the news the reality hit home even harder. Climate change has disappeared from the U.S. Government website. Like, gone. It hasn’t been fixed or anything, it was just deleted. Much the same way as it would seem President Trump would like to delete anything and anyone he doesn’t believe in or agree with. Which is terrifying. A man with access to codes to unleash the most destructive nuclear weapons in the world and an inability to stop himself from acting on impulse. I mean, what could go wrong?
I know I don’t have to go into detail about the things he has said and done – we heard about them all repeatedly on the television, in the newspapers and on the internet for the past year when he was on the campaign trail. I also am not going to point fingers and blame voters and electoral colleges because there is no point. The deed is done.
Today I attended the sister rally of Women’s March DC at Belfast City Hall because I felt like I HAD to do something, ANYTHING. I’m not American. But I am human, and that is what today was all about. Yes, it was called the Women’s March. Yes, it was lead by women. Strong women, hurt women, women with a fire in their belly to actually BE the change. But this was not a ‘man hating women’s club’ despite what Piers Morgan (bleurgh) would want so many to believe. This was about human rights for ALL.
Jennie Carlsten set about organising the event 2 weeks ago when she realised she would not be able to be at home in the U.S. to attend the march there and she wanted to show her solidarity – in doing so she also provided the people of Belfast with the opportunity to do the same and that is a gift that I for one will never forget. As the crowds gathered, Jennie explained how she had expected a turn out of around 40 people based on social media – however the turnout was estimated to be around 1200 in total. Men, women and children united for one cause. To uphold our rights as humans and to maintain the safety of minority groups within our own communities and around the world. This was unity despite diversity. This was a resistance.
We were addressed by speakers from Belfast Feminist Network, Housing for All, Climate Change, Gender Jam NI, Black Lives Matter, Chamindra Weerawardhana and Amnesty International. It was a privilege to hear them and it was a privilege to be heard.
I was standing beside a mother and daughter and we were speaking once the rally had ended. Her daughter was probably around 2 or 3 and was an exceptionally well behaved first time demonstrator. Her Mum told me that she just felt that she needed to do something, to take action. That in 15 years when her daughter is old enough and she asks her, ‘Mum, what did you do about it?’ that she will be able to say that they were there and that she didn’t just sit back and do nothing. We then began to discuss the impending election in Norn Iron (imagine that? being able to discuss politics with a stranger in Belfast and not worry about them finding out what foot you kick with)
What I took away from today was that things are not how they used to be. Somethings are worse (Trump) but some things are better. We were able to hold a peaceful demonstration outside Belfast City Hall, united despite diversity for one greater good. Equal rights for ALL. Who you choose to vote for in #AE17 is 100% personal choice. I will however advise you to make sure you find out what the party you choose to vote for ACTUALLY stands for. Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty International put it best when he said, “there is no point in praying for an earthquake and then panicking when you have to deal with the rubble.” Make an informed choice. Be the umbrella the universe needs right now. May the force be with us all….