To the National Mall in Washington, D.C., they marched.
Through the streets of Manhattan, they marched.
In cities in Illinois, California, Alaska, Kentucky and Texas, they marched.
In Paris, France, they marched.
In Nairobi Kenya, they marched.
They marched in Tel Aviv.
In Rome, Italy.
In Warsaw, Poland.
In Accra, Ghana.
And in Iraq.
In all 50 states, in dozens of countries, in all seven continents, they marched.
What we witnessed on Saturday may have been the largest mass demonstration in United States history. They were joined by people all over the world.
Call them what you want. Protests. Demonstrations. Riots. Revolts. Rebellions.
What I saw was millions of unified people standing up for humanity.
The unifying cause of the marches was women’s rights. And while that remained the central theme, millions marched for other causes: environmental protection; LGBT rights; healthcare; education; peace.
And most of all, they marched to show everyone that they care.
Obviously, there was the not-so-subtle elephant in the room serving as the backdrop of these marches: Donald Trump’s inauguration, which took place one day earlier.
There’s no doubting that the world’s problems — inequality, corporate greed, mass violence, human-accelerated climate change, etc. — existed long before Donald Trump. They existed during the early part of the 20th century, when women fought for equal rights. They existed in the middle of the century, when African-Americans fought for equal rights.
They continued into the turn of the 21st century. And yes, they lingered during the presidency of Barack Obama, even as his administration fought to protect civil rights.
But mobilizing people is not easy. People are passionate, no doubt, but it still takes a significant spark to get them out on the streets to stand up for what they believe in.
And there is little doubt that the catalyst of this march — the spark that ignited the flame — was Donald Trump. When you verbally denigrate and act dismissively towards minority groups for a year and a half, and suddenly find yourself in a position of power to advance your agenda — then you leave people no choice but to act. And that’s all on you.
But what was clearly obvious during these nonviolent protests was that the central theme was not hate — but love.
Human beings of all races, religions, ethnicities and cultures coming together and supporting one another is a pipe dream, the stuff of beauty pageant banter. It’s what everyone hopes for but knows can never come true.
Saturday, January 21 is the closest we may ever come to seeing it in our lifetimes.
At a time when populist leaders spouting xenophobic rhetoric are threatening to shape nations all over the world, how can these organic gatherings of unity be interpreted as anything but beautiful?