Yesterday, millions of people around the world (!!!) stood up and shouted out for equality and compassion to surge stronger than hate and fear. These people, coming together in kindness and unity, made me feel proud to be a human being. An American. A Vermonter. A woman. In Montpelier, I marched and stood on the State House lawn with my mom, a dear family friend, and a minimum of 15,000 (!!!) other passionate friends, neighbors, and concerned citizens. It was an incredible way to spend an afternoon.
The first speaker was Madeline Kunin, who was elected Vermont’s first female Governor in 1985 (that’s the year I was born; in my entire lifetime, Vermont has yet to have another female lead the state…). Kunin is an 83 year old straight white woman, but she’s also author of two books on feminism and female political leadership, and it was inspiring to listen to her call out for equal respect, opportunity, and safety fall ALL people, regardless gender, sexuality, race, religion, ability, or socio-economics. She ended by quoting Emily Dickinson:
“Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops at all -“
This is such a familiar quote (poor Emily—her poem is hardly ever quoted in its entirety!), but it felt particularly well suited to this moment. The message of hope is powerful in its simplicity and positivity. No, it isn’t cliché, it’s critically important…
Of course, I think there is no better image of hope embodied and brought to life than birds. Feathered. Flying. Freedom.
Naturally, thinking about birds in the context of a political rally reminded me of the now-poignant moment between Bernie and the bird, during his campaign last year. Then, so many of us were so filled with hope; Bernie’s bird truly became a symbol for that hope.
Today, we need to reclaim and hang on tight to that beautiful, feathered, sense of hope. I’m not at all saying that hope without action is enough. It’s not. But, passion guided by hate is divisive, and only fuels more hate and violence. Passion guided by hope—hope that the future can be (WILL be) better than today—is the only thing that will bring about positive and lasting change. Hope. A feathered song.
Singing to the Birds, by Lisa Germano, doesn’t exactly use birds as a metaphor for hope. Instead, she uses the concept of singing to the birds almost as an outlet for venting. Are you disillusioned with the state of the world? Start singing to the birds. Feeling frustrated and alone? Try singing to the birds. I happened to listen to this song on Friday, as I was driving in my car and thinking about the transition that was happening in Washington DC. In this context, the lyrics really resonated with me and put a hopeful smile on my face. Singing frustration out to the birds. I like that. For what it’s worth; in the song, things DO get better 🙂