The pictures are remarkable. The comments are divisive. United we stand, yet on opposite sides. For all the passion and zeal, for all the motivating factors and beliefs, one thing is certain: our Country is filled with capable, energetic, enthusiastic, educated, and strong women. Many of our Country’s women are lovers and fighters.
In all of this activity and chatter, the world wants to know: What will the zealous American woman do next?
There is a common root of humanity being espoused by both sides, and thank God for it. This means we can look at each other eye to eye and say, “You have value, worth, and meaning.” But there is a difference to be acknowledged here, and not the one you might think. For every capable, energetic, enthusiastic, educated, and strong woman in America, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of women who live in desperation and solitude. They are weak, they are hurting, they are lonely, and outcast. They are abused, neglected, overlooked, and homeless. They aren’t lovers, they are merely trying to survive. They aren’t fighters, but the victims of manipulative exploitation. They aren’t of child-bearing age, or corporate-ladder-climbing age; they are elderly widows in hospital beds.
In all of this activity and chatter, the world wants to know: What will the strong American woman do next?
No matter which side you find yourself occupying, whether you spout #womensmarch or #notmymarch, my hope is that all can agree on this critical point: love will win in the end. It is here that you have your biggest opening, dear women; in this moment, you have the opportunity to turn zeal into tangible action. You really do have the power you proclaim to possess…the power to make a difference in the life of another.
Being the change you want to see in the world doesn’t stop at a protest, picket line, or polling place–it stops at the doorstep of a neighbor in need.
If you are walking away from the past few days feeling inspired (or enraged), my hope is that your inspiration would not lead you to inaction come Monday morning. And I’m not talking about political action. I’m not talking about taking your opinions to the streets. I’m not talking about cheering on anarchy, or casting stones where you see fit. I’m talking about turning your passion into altruism: it’s what American women–together–can do next.
Altruism: the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others.
If you marched for love, love the single mom down the street by bringing her dinner on Wednesday nights. If you didn’t march, march your way to a local elderly home and talk with a woman widow who hasn’t been visited in weeks. If you are a woman living in America, recognize that whatever strength you have, whatever power you possess, whatever free will you have will mean nothing in the end if it leads not to an outstretched hand helping someone besides yourself.
It can’t all be talk and signs. It can’t all be posts and theory. If we love women, as we all claim to do, then we ought not to let agenda or belief keep us from linking arm-in-arm to take our power to the streets: not to be seen and heard, but to enter into the lives of the broken so we can share in their humanity. To come alongside other women as they are weak, hurt, abused, or dying is not something that should be legislated from the Capital–it should be legislated from the heart of every female who truly desires to use her individualism for the common good.
So, #womensmarch and #notmymarch, though you walk parallel paths, I pray they lead you each to do what only you can: the next good thing for your fellow woman.
Here are some ways you can turn your inspiration into action for the common good of hurting women in our Country:
• Find your local elderly care facility and inquire if they allow visitors or are in need of volunteers to lead activities. Befriend women there who are eager to be in relationship with another woman who cares and wants to talk with them on a regular basis.
Almost half of all people who live in nursing homes are 85 years or older. Most are women (72%), many of whom are without a spouse (almost 70% are widowed, divorced or never married) and with only a small group of family members and friends for support. (source: HealthinAging.org)
• Find your local women’s shelter and learn how you can help support it, through volunteering, mentoring, skills training, fundraising, etc.
Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. 1 in 5 women have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner. In America, one woman is fatally shot by a spouse, ex-spouse or dating partner every 14 hours. Domestic Violence is not isolated to households and families. It affects us all. (source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
• Research and reach out to a sex trafficking ministry to learn what their needs are and how you can help support them for the purpose of rescuing women and children from the pervasive influence of human trafficking in our very own Country (a simple google search provides dozens of options to review).
Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world due to the fact that human beings can be sold over and over again every day. This exploitation is designed to recruit, transport and provide a person for labor or commercial sex. The majority of trafficking victims are women. (source: North American Mission Board | additional statistics at the National Human Trafficking Hotline)
• Learn more about becoming a mentor to a young woman at a local Boys & Girls club or similar organization whose goal it is to support the education, fitness, health, and development of our nation’s daughters.
In 2015, Boys & Girls Club youth development programs, training and services impacted nearly 4 million children and teens. 45% of the youth served are female. (source: Boys & Girls Club of America)
• Find a local single moms ministry and learn more about how to get involved, provide goods/services, volunteer, mentor, etc.
According to U.S. Census Bureau, out of about 12 million single parent families in 2015, more than 80% were headed by single mothers. Today 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 — a total of about 17.4 million — are being raised without a father and nearly half (45%) live below the poverty line. (source: Single Mother Guide)
• Find a local women’s prison ministry and learn more about how to get involved, what their needs are, how to volunteer or support their efforts, etc.
Women now comprise a larger proportion of the prison population than ever before; the female prison population stands nearly eight times higher than its population count in 1980. More than 60% of women in state prisons have a child under the age of 18. Of the 54,148 youth in residential placement, 14.3% (7,727) are girls. (source: The Sentencing Project)
There is much work to do, but the most important work to be done is in the hearts of American women–that they be stirred up to turn words into deeds which tangilbly demonstrate the care, concern, and love for the aching sisterhood in their own backyard. If love is to win in the end, it will do so because of the endearing, selfless, passionate zeal of generations who did not let policies or politicians dictate their ability to love thy neighbor as thyself.