“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
If this weekend was any indication, then by Frederick Douglas' estimation, we must be some freedom-loving people. Wow. That was something. Regardless of where you sit on the ideological spectrum, the sight of millions of people coming together to embrace the freedom to assemble, to speak up, and to criticize their government, is a remarkable, powerful thing.
And that was a lot of yarn.
The marches in Washington and around the world have not, of course, been met with universal support. Humans don't like conflict. At least not conflict we aren't sure we can win. And we really don't conflict if it disrupts what was supposed to be a good time. So what we've got happening now is the national equivalent of a holiday dinner that erupted into an argument. (Occurring weeks after actual holiday dinners erupted into arguments, yeah us.)
There are two sides, and nearly everyone in the family has picked one, except for a few of the older generation who keep shushing people and passing around pie.
There are a lot of voices calling for quiet right now. Some, like grandma, cushion the request with reminders of loyalty and shared experience. Others, opt to raise their own voices, attempting to accomplish in shouting and insults what they've not achieved in debate. Neither approach is likely to be entirely successful, nor do I think they should be.
In the human experience, I don't think any family argument has ever been resolved by everyone just piping down and pretending to get along. It only looks that way until the next time everyone's together and inevitably something happens, someone gets angry, and it all gets dragged out and fired up again.
So let's just get it all out on the table.
We have real problems in this country, and it's going to require hard work and commitment to fix them. It's also going to require that people with opposing views of what that work should look like, bring their best ideas and their fullest knowledge and be prepared to challenge each other. And it should go without saying that "best ideas and fullest knowledge" are not cultivated in an environment that tolerates deception or that stifles dissent. Ever.
Millions of people stood up last weekend and said they don't think this administration's proposals - and actions - are meeting that standard. And there will likely be demonstrations in the future with people that like the president's proposals and have no problem with his actions. This isn't wrong. Good, decent, honest people can disagree. Family members that love each other can disagree.
So keep showing up for the dinners. I'll bring my best ideas and you bring yours and maybe if we do it often enough we can come up with an even better idea that we both can agree on.
And if we're really lucky, there might even be pie.