By Sister Sharon Havelak, OSF
Toledo held a Unity March and Celebration on Inauguration Day. The YWCA planned it, not so much as a protest march, but as a means of demonstrating that we are stronger when we stand together; united, we have a stronger voice to support our country’s most vulnerable. The tone was to be peaceful and positive.
It was that – and much more.
Though the rain had stopped, the unpaved parking lot was pretty swampy. That didn’t stop the 300 – 500 or so people who gathered. There were babies in strollers and elders with walkers. All came to support Toledo as an engaged, united, welcoming community.
It was a great party. I saw lots of old friends, local justice and peace activists from a number of different groups, some Sisters, a couple priests. What surprised me most were the friends I didn’t expect to see – the wife of an environmentalist friend who had never participated in a march before and the mother of a student I had taught in grade school many, many years ago. And I made at least one new friend. Rather than wait for the shuttle, a young woman and I walked back across the bridge together, in animated conversation.
The signs they carried were as diverse as the people who carried them. There were simple signs calling for peace, for women’s rights, for an end to racism. There were signs expressing concerns for Muslims, for Latinos, for refugees. There were signs with quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. and signs calling for unity.
The whole experience reinforced something that happened about a month before. At the end of a meeting last December, I was talking with a friend, when he commented, “There is so much goodness” and repeated even more emphatically, “There is so much goodness out there.” His comment has become my new motto, my mantra. It gives me hope and courage.
So, in 2017, here’s to the goodness around us. May we be aware of it. May we celebrate it. May we find strength in each other, to give us hope and courage.