Marching with my daughter, cousin and dear friend, along with 500,000 others in DC yesterday, filled me with pride and honor. And as cliché as this may sound, I felt like we belonged instantly to a powerful and collaborative community. “All for one and one for all” – this feeling permeated the air, in front of and next to each of us. Pink hats colored the sky scape, brilliant signs were held high and we sang songs of justice and perseverance. The men who walked hand in hand with this sisterhood intermittently called out “her body her choice” and women responded “my body my choice” in a strong and impressive harmony of reciprocity. Strangers extended their hand to help others scale walls and fences to circumvent barricades (literally!), eyes of strangers were sought out, gazes held and generous wide, warm and welcoming smiles were offered. It was a day of receiving and giving generously to one another. It was a family of 500,000. A true celebration of love and respect emerged within these masses, one that is untouchable because it rests solidly and strongly in each of us.
At one point, I turned to my left and saw a woman wrapping a drum strap around her body and she began playing a djembe drum, with her eyes closed, walking forward and blessing the space and people around her. People started to dance, sing and chant, just like they do in the places I love and know well.
I am struck by how different this day felt from today’s expected rhetoric of division – the usual lines can divide us …race, religion, who has more (more stuff, status, just more)….here, these lines didn’t exist. Mutual respect, cohesion, unified vision replaced them. This felt familiar and welcomed, and the drumming brought me full circle to Afya – this is how I feel when we bring our work abroad. This is what happens when we sit with those we honor and respect, we share our supplies and they share insights to the lessons of life that are unmatchable.
Yesterday marked a day of cooperation, collaboration and deep regard and once you taste this, you just want more.
“As the sun was shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling
As the fog was lifting, a voice was saying
“This land was made for you and me!”