“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.