Fatherhood Journey: Finding political voice as a family

  • CAROL LOLLISJohn P. Engel

Published: 1/24/2017 3:56:32 PM

I’m not a fan of political marches. I find crowds and chanting masses unappealing. And, I am dubious about the lasting impact of such gatherings.

My stance is partly a function of my introverted personality; I prefer less social stimulation, not more. But it’s also a function of privilege. As a white, heterosexual, middle-class, Christian-raised, English-speaking, college-educated, American male, my civil rights and liberties have never been in serious jeopardy.

But when my wife, Lori, and I began to learn of the Women’s March in Washington, scheduled for the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. President, we felt that marching — as a family — was a moral imperative, though we opted for a local event.

So, on a sunny, unseasonably warm Saturday morning, after returning from our son Adam’s 8 a.m. indoor soccer game, we rested, refueled and quickly made a sign. Crafting symbols and words on a large sheet of cardboard — peace, love, hope and light — we offered aspirations for the next four years. Then we drove to a point near the start of the march in Northampton and set off on foot to assemble with the others.

Like many, we were largely silent during the march. Mostly we read the eclectic mix of signs, listened to chants, and marveled at the turnout, which stretched, one lane wide, along a mile of city-street. Parents carried babies and pushed strollers, children and adults of all ages lifted signs, some rode in wheel chairs, others on bikes, while still more waved from the curb.

We stayed close together, our family sign resting high on my shoulders, and Zoe and Adam beamed at the occasional site of their elementary school friends. As we approached the town center, the crowd’s energy surged and I felt an unexpected surge of emotion, tears briefly welling up in my eyes as I appreciated the significance of the moment — for our family, community and nation.

By the time we reached the end point, Zoe and Adam were far more interested in food and restrooms than protest speeches, so we found lunch and then headed to a nearby playground before returning home.

That evening, dinner conversation offered a few moments for reflection. When asked about what they noticed at the march, Zoe remarked that there were so many signs, and recalled a chat about women’s rights and human rights. Adam observed that there were so many people and that they were well behaved.

So, while we were far from the sea of people who gathered in our nation’s capitol, I believe the collective expression of those with whom we marched left indelible impressions on Zoe and Adam, which means while this was our first political march as a family, it won’t be our last.

John Engel of Florence can be reached through his website http://www.fatherhoodjourney.com.




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