Protesting is something that Mennonites have done for a long, long time. Our identity is shaped by peaceful resistance. Our American history is steeped in a tradition of dissent.
It is important to acknowledge that our ancestors argued fervently that all humans are equal, cherished children of God. On Jan. 21, a group of us will again be representing the Mennonite community’s commitment to justice at the Women’s March on Washington.
Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, many of us have been in constant prayer about what challenges we will face in the coming days of an administration that belies many of the basic tenets we hold as essential principles. The truths that we ascribe to are as necessary as drawing breath, and we cannot rationalize silence when so much of what those in power have chosen to do negates simple human decency.
Mennonites are devoted to advancing intercultural transformation, and this often includes finding ways to dismantle systemic abuses of power. American society, as a whole, is being held hostage by an abusive rhetoric that intends to divide us and make us afraid. It is a rhetoric that feeds on the reality of uncertain times and seeks to control through chaos. It is a rhetoric that strips the value and worth from individuals who are stigmatized by societal prejudices.
The rhetoric pertaining to women has been especially abhorrent. The president-elect has made no secret about his views on women. We, in Donald Trump’s estimation, are commodities to be bought, sold and controlled as he sees fit. This particular rhetoric is not new to our ears — as it says in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes, “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.”
Women are more than our bodies, though we claim those bodies as our own. Women are not decorative objects of subjugation. Women are not meant to be targets of derision just because we do not conform to ideals set forth by those who do not have our best interests at heart. We, too, are equal, cherished children of God.
As women, we are an essential part of the continuing Mennonite mission of mobilizing the omnipresent love of God so that we may more effectively speak truth to power. In her 1975 tome Woman Liberated, Lois Gunden Clemens tells us that each woman makes her best contributions “on the basis of herself as an individual person.” Each woman has the right to use her intellect, knowledge and talents to create a better world for herself and those she loves. Each Mennonite woman who marches with us will bring a multitude of gifts and blessings.
When our individual strength is combined with that of a sisterhood in faith, we are a powerful force of good. Christ tells us in Matthew that “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” We acknowledge the fear of uncertainty but offer an alternative of faith and harmony to the chaos and division that has beset us.
Note: Participants are asked to register with the official Women’s March on Washington if they are attending the march. Registration is free, and it helps organizers know how many might be coming and why. Last minute changes or updates will be communicated through this registration tool.
Our group name is “Mennonites” and our password is “menno.” Click here to register.
Amy Harris-Aber grew up in Kansas. She is now a doctoral candidate at Middle Tennessee State University where she studies composition and rhetoric along with children’s literature. She lives with three glorious cats and a handsome map-making husband.