Last week, my husband and I attended yet another rally/protest. We then marched almost 8 miles from the State of Illinois Building in downtown Chicago to Currie High School (near Midway Airport for those who know Chicago). We chanted. We waved at those who honked at us as they drove past. We drank a lot of water along the way (it was a hot day). At hour four, I was ready to stop, but I knew that completing this walk was important to my husband…and, as it turns out, it was important to me, too. This march was the first day of a 200 mile walk to Springfield, Illinois to demand the Governor and legislature create a fair budget for the state after two years without one. People in Illinois are hurting. The poorest of our residents and our children have lost services, jobs and resources that they depended on. And Illinois’ deficit grows each day that we are without a budget. So we marched to make a physical statement that we care and that we want this resolved. We will not be marching the full 200 miles, but we will drive to Springfield at the end of the month to rally, once again, with those who walked the distance. We will be there at the end of the march as we were at the beginning. It is important to show up.
I support many causes with financial contributions and I sign multiple petitions and online lists daily. I call my elected officials to voice my opinion and tell them how I want them to represent me. All of these actions are important and make me feel like I can make a difference. But, I believe I make a greater difference when I am physically present and not just a signature in cyberspace or a voice on the phone. When I go to my elected officials’ offices to voice an opinion, it is clear that someone in that office needs to pay attention. When I stand with others (whether hundreds or thousands, or more), I am part of a movement. When I attend marches, rallies and protests, I often feel I am there representing more than myself. I stand there for those whose voices might not otherwise be heard. I stand for those who cannot be there but are most effected by the issues being protested. I stand there because I am lucky enough to be able to show up.
So at the end of May, we will drive for 4 ½ hours to Springfield, to spend a few hours supporting those who marched 200 miles seeking a fair budget for Illinois. But it will be time well-spent. We will be physically present for those who could not and we will be their voices. We will speak truth to power… directly. We will show up, and continue to show up. Because showing up supports more than our positions on issues. Showing up supports others.
- Carole Levine