On January 21, 2017, I attended the Women’s March in Washington DC because of my concerns about the direction of the US government and the impact its policies will have on our nation and its people and our planet. It was my first experience attending a protest and I imagine it will not be my last.
There are many things I could say about the experience but what stood out to me most was the extraordinary degree of solidarity among a remarkable diversity of women and men. To be in a crowd of over a million people with a sense of fellowship and union arising from common commitments and interests was moving and heartening. Coming out of the March, I began to contemplate how I could extend this sense of solidarity to life daily. How do I stay connected with others (whether we have the same beliefs or not)? How do I source solidarity with my fellow citizens, my community, and my own family? At Tiara International, we believe that our greatest contribution comes from what inspires us and our own unique sense of purpose, mission, and vision. Participating in the Women’s March connected to me to a deep commitment to solidarity that prior to marching I could knew but could not put into words.
As I contemplate solidarity more deeply, I sense that for myself solidarity starts with myself. It starts with releasing the judgment that naturally arises within me, judgment of myself and judgment of others that separates me from unity. For many years, I have had the ambition to be less judgmental but of course there is always a reason why I can be justify being judgmental “just this one time” in a given moment for some reason or another. But since the March, the breech between the solidarity I know is possible and what happens in my real life is a bit striking. I tasted the nectar of profound fellowship in the largest crowd of humanity I ever encountered and now I am back in my “real” life. I have work to do, kids to raise, dishes to wash, and more to do than the hours seem to allow each day. All this busyness can leave my impatient, critical, pressured and yes, judgmental.
Yet, I hear the call of the marchers, the call for unity, and the call to remember my values and the kind of human I want to be. Each day I recommit to solidarity. First, solidarity begins by noticing judgment of myself. Tara Brach, an important spiritual teacher in my life teaches that when we judge ourselves we become a divided self, a person at war with herself. There is the person who is living her life and then there is the person judging the person living her life, dividing herself up as good or bad with little compassion for just how challenging life can be. And judgment toward the self can then create a factory of judgment toward others. It might be very subtle. Little ways in which your mind divides up people into categories and makes assumptions about others. It might be more obvious in the form of strong opinions, anger, righteousness, superiority or indignation.
To live in solidarity with the beings on this earth, I must first be aware of any division within myself that arises and tend to it with care and compassion. I am a believer that we only do to others what we do to ourselves first. If I am judging others in any way and succumbing to my ego and it’s needs to be better or superior in any way, it tells me there is judgment already within me. And my job is to keep opening to life as it unfolds (not as my mind insists it should be), bringing compassion to the moment and aligning and realigning myself with the deeply held value and commitment to solidarity.