The Long March

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”  Mahatma Ghandi

I can’t believe that we are here. That it has come to this. My head still pounds from the chanting: “Olympia, hear our cry, no more children need to die! Olympia, hear our cry, no more children need to die!….” 

We were 1,500 protestors strong, standing on the grassy Seattle Center Mural Amphitheatre at the base of The Space Needle. We had walked up 4th Avenue from downtown escorted by a police motorcade. A cold snap gripped the region, but for once it wasn’t raining. Gloved hands held signs, gripped coffee cups, and some held the hand of a child along for the march.

A small boy’s handmade sign in the crowd read, “Don’t Sell Guns to Bad Guys.”

The Stand Up Washington March and Rally for Gun Control on January 13th was an event for recognizing that we had reached a tipping point. For turning grief and anger into action.

It was the day before the opening of the 2013 Legislative session, and civic, religious and education leaders assembled to show support for sensible gun legislation. Having drafted the bill to ban assault weapons, State Sen. Ed Murray assured us, “We are going to see movement in Olympia.”

Music threaded throughout the rally, all the old familiar songs: “We Shall Overcome” and “Down By the Riverside” sung by the Seattle Peace Chorus. How many times? I thought. How many times?

Mayor Mike McGinn took the podium. The Space Needle loomed large behind him and a trace of blue in the marbled sky.

“This is the spot of The World’s Fair fifty years ago, where we dreamed of the place where we would want to be one day,” he said. “And once again, today, we are dreaming of the place where we want us to be fifty years from now.”

That’s how it goes, I thought. Inching on, inching on….

How did we get here?

I feel I’ve been here before. Our system is broken and we are shattered.

Longtime gun control advocate Ralph Fascitelli of Washington Cease Fire reminded us that NRA members comprise only 1% of the population in the U.S. Similarly, NYC Mayor Bloomberg insists that “The NRA’s power is more myth than reality.”

Many of us didn’t see this one coming, this war with ourselves.

And yet, we did it before and we will do it again. Didn’t we break the back of segregation, end the war in Vietnam, obtain women’s rights, and most recently, marriage equality in our state?

Easy to feel fellowship at a rally. It really wasn’t until the event was over and we all fanned out in various directions throughout the city, that I fully appreciated our shared community, our humanity. Could it be that we, primarily, are it?

While walking away with volunteers in white Cease Fire shirts, Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, the handsome man in the royal blue turban from SIKHS United Against Gun Violence, various Veterans for Peace, and the Buddhist Peace Fellowship members who squeezed into a small blue sedan, I thought, this is my city, this is my country.

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11 Comments

Filed under gun control

11 responses to “The Long March

  1. Elizabeth Yourgrau

    Together we can and must make a difference.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I’m with you in solidarity.

  3. Tracy Ahrens

    We have had to do this before and we MUST do it again.

  4. John Ahrens

    Guns, mental health and loops holes must be included in a comprehensive package …..

  5. Jack Ahrens

    great blog, Kim.
    we too are looking for ways to end our country’s obsession with guns and violence. We can do it and we have to do it. Reading your blog. Reminded me of the many peace marches you and we were in many years ago. Here we go again!
    Mom and Dad

  6. Yeah, please remember “mental patient” does not mean “bad guy.” I am one. I grew up a child of the sixties and seventies and was always against war-like behavior just like everyone else. We listened to the same music.

    If anything, patients have been victims of violent crimes. We’ve been targets, because of who we appear to be in the eyes of society. Since Sandy Hook, I am hearing more stories of patients getting “looks” while out in public, or even stories that strangers will cross the street to avoid walking past a patient, out of fear.

    Great blog post. Keep it up, Kim.

    Julie MFAW ’09, same school as you, and I have ten fingers, too, last I counted.

    • By “bad guy” I didn’t mean anything other than a violent person, and I’m sure that’s what the little boy who made the sign had in mind. But you are right to point that out.
      Same school twice, Julie, Emerson and Goddard. And listening to the same music still, I would guess….

      • What year did you graduate Emerson? 2003, late bloomer. I should have finished undergrad in 1979. My first college album was Joni Mitchell’s For the Roses, played it till it was scratched and nearly bleeding. My dorm roommate introduced me to that album. She was always stoned, god bless her.

  7. ’74. And when I called registration for my transcript to be sent to Goddard, the receptionist said, “I don’t we go back that far.”
    “Oh yes you do,” I cried. “We are still out here, and still going to school!”
    I knew it. Joni Mitchell meant the sun and the moon to me too, then and now and always.

    • I still have the vinyl. and also on MP3, when I heard it again when I downloaded it last year I cried. I quoted the song, “Banquet” in my book, just a line or two, only cuz it hit so hard.

      Emerson is so, so conservative, but folks don’t realize it, even though I love the school. It’s way too much about grades, grades, grades. I met a girl there who told me, “I’m a C student and I don’t try hard because what does it matter? I’ll still get a job.” But was that her attitude on the job, too? I worked my butt off while I was there, always did so in school, and that line kinda rubbed off funny on me. Who was paying for her college? I was 45 and I questioned college…money…everything. Then my BF died and that turned everything unrecognizable, 2003.

  8. Linda Alhart

    I am President of GAG , GrandmothersAgainstGunViolence, on Cape Cod, MA. Lets march on Washington, D. C. with other groups like ours. We must take our mission to the federal level for an assault weapon ban, universal background checks legislation and making gun trafficking a federal crime. Lets join together to make a difference .

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