As I have already mentioned in my first blog, the experience as an ATLAS Corps fellow is amazing and teaches you a lot. More outside of the host organization than within it. So, a new interesting thing I’ve learnt from the streets of Washington is… marches!
I come from a beautiful in development country, with amazing people and potential. But very corrupted and with an infantile political environment. But above all, with not a very strong civil rights movement and without that conscience to act as a citizen that has not only rights, but also many many responsibilities. In my country, people will go on the streets and protest on behalf of political parties, but very hardly would they protest or go on a march for reasons like human rights, to show appreciation for someone or something, or simply to celebrate diversity, arts, culture, technology etc. But they gladly celebrate our national soccer team. That can be in hundred thousands in the downtown to celebrate for a game, but they cannot protest for women killed by men’s supremacy culture or to hold account about the missing power, polluted air and/or water.
When I came to DC, a week later was the new President Inauguration day and the other thing that I learnt is that Washingtonians can express themselves also by NOT marching!! 😛 A week after the Inauguration, DC went crazy! Way more people went to the women march, ignoring thus the Inauguration day. The message was clear. And with “the message” I do not mean “disagreeing with the new administration and President”. These people chose human rights over politics. This never happens in my poor in development country, where people never can get together for protests or marches concerning human rights, or even their rights, but they would give their life for their preferred political party. Literally! Has happened quite sometimes in the past that people died in my country because of politics. Six years ago four people died in the capital city, Tirana, during a massive and violent protest against the government (Democratic Party) lead by the socialist leader, Edi Rama and one of the most fatal protests in the history of Albanian political scene.
Back to Washingtonians… after women marches, they kept marching… for LGBTQI, or even for technologies. To show their appreciation to the science. So, I asked myself… these guys got way less problems compared to us, Albanians, but they still keep marching for “rights” and “to get better”. It looks like we live in a paradise if we never feel the need to protest and make our voices be heard.
One of the marches a few gay friends and gay couples I know went to, were the march and the protests for the Muslim ban. I have been surprised not only from the quantity of marches in this country, but also from their quality and uniqueness. I asked my gay friends: “Why on Earth would gay people protest on behalf of people who believe in a religion that actually hates and also fights homosexuality?”. There were a lot of answers and arguments afterward, but no matter the details, I was once again amazed by the support you can get from people here, also when they belong to different groups of interest. People here protest about human rights. And Muslims rights are human rights after all, aren’t they?