Why I Marched
I read a talk given in Berlin on November 10 given by Zadie Smith on receiving the 2016 Welt Literature Prize. She has always been one of my favorite writers. When thinking about why I joined in my first ever march, I went back to her words. “I am a citizen as well as an individual soul and one of the things citizenship teaches us, over the long stretch, is that there is no perfectibility in human affairs.”
“… I maintain that people who believe in fundamental and irreversible changes in human nature are themselves ahistorical and naive. If novelists know anything it’s that individual citizens are internally plural: they have within them the full range of behavioral possibilities. They are like complex musical scores from which certain melodies can be teased out and others ignored or suppressed, depending, at least in part, on who is doing the conducting. At this moment, all over the world—and most recently in America—the conductors standing in front of this human orchestra have only the meanest and most banal melodies in mind. Here in Germany you will remember these martial songs; they are not a very distant memory. But there is no place on earth where they have not been played at one time or another. Those of us who remember, too, a finer music must try now to play it, and encourage others, if we can, to sing along.”
I sang loud and clear with 100,000 other voices on Saturday. My tune might be a little rusty but I am ready to sing like never before as I reach for the finer tune. I sing for those 29 beautiful faces I see each morning who deserve a role model who believes in the good in people, who seeks peace, who embodies empathy, and who listens to ALL of the people he leads.