At exactly 10 p.m. Friday, Beverly Molander, Pat Harris and 18 of their girlfriends will board a charter bus headed north to our nation’s capital.
It promises to be a heady moment for the women, who will make the journey far beyond their comfort zone. This will be their first protest march, but they have been looking forward to it since early December when Molander spotted news of the planned Women’s March on Washington on her Facebook newsfeed and invited her friends to join her.
“The moment I saw it, I knew I had to go,” Molander said.
Organizers say more than 150,000 women from across the country will converge on Washington on Saturday, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, in an extraordinary display of unity to protest the 45th president’s treatment of women and other issues he dismissed during his campaign.
Like Teresa Shook, the Hawaii grandmother credited with igniting the protest, Molander said the election left her saddened, angry, and called to action.
Many women see Trump’s presidency as a threat to women’s access to health care, an erosion of protection against sexual violence and decided disinterest in providing help for struggling mothers.
Beyond that, Molander said the new president’s “cavalier and manipulative” attitude about women’s strength and the U.S. political process have provoked an inner shiver of distrust. “He has used his bullyish attitude to foster the upside-down threats that ‘might makes right.’ He is wrong about that.”
Instead of wringing her hands, Molander, a self-described baby boomer, mom, radio host and ordained minister from Virginia-Highland, said she decided to turn her anger into action.
“I want to find a way beyond the vitriol,” she said.
The more inflammatory and divisive Trump-speak became, the more Molander remembered slain civil rights activist the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who she said never focused on all the negative things happening during his time.
“Dr. King let go of concentrating on the negative so his dream could come true,” she said. “He kept his eye on the prize and I want to do the same, without getting emotionally distraught by what Trump, some other politicos, and their Facebook followers are saying.”
Molander is a minister for the Centers for Spiritual Living, an international spiritual organization that teaches, among other principles, that we can change our thinking and change our lives. As such, she's convinced that good can come of this event, because many of us are discovering the importance of preserving the American sense of integrity and its political system of checks and balances.
“My radio show is about Activating the Power of Yes, and sometimes to do that we must first say, ‘No,’ to the way things are.”
Ironically, Molander points out that she owes her newfound activism to Trump.
“I would not be this proactive about politics and the issues important to me had he not won,” she said. “I might still be resting on an easygoing field of neutrality without thought or commitment to those issues that make a difference in this world.”
Molander said the march has brought out her tenacity. It feels bold and purposeful, an idea whose time has come.
Her goal is to make this journey-by-bus an event for all to remember — the riders for their camaraderie and solidarity, the politicians who are being held to accountability, and the naysayers who will soon see a different way to look at the issues — that there be no mudslinging and that before they board the bus back to Atlanta Saturday night, Washington knows that these women mean business.
For her part, Harris, an interior designer by trade, said the march, a first for her, too, has less to do with Trump and everything to do with women's leadership and dignity.
Said Harris: “Chaos always comes on the brink of a new wave. I’m excited to join a wave of women as we walk the Mall as if for the first time, actively visioning a new future. I will be there to walk humbly and join in to establish a new marathon of love and justice.”
She quoted the Talmud: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now, Love mercy, now. … You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
And King for emphasis: “Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
Love, the Apostle Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 13:8, never fails.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com