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Giving thanks, day six; for the original post explaining this challenge, see November 20. 

While I don’t make it the center of my writing here, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am fearful for the future – both immediate and long-term – of this country. I believe that the person sitting in the Oval Office is a fraud; that he is vindictive, small-minded, and lacking in empathy. It seems clear, too, that he is a pawn of others – both here and abroad – who wish to divide our country.

I was distraught after the election; for only the second time in my life, I awoke crying that morning in November. And during Inauguration – a tradition that I adore – I did not tune in to watch; I instead devoted that time to a group of teenage boys, who talked with me about finding ways to temper their anger. It seemed like a much better use of time.

I had already bought tickets to fly out for the inauguration of Hillary Rodham Clinton. I was there in person to see President Obama take office, and I wanted to be on hand to also see the first woman president take the oath. I wound up trading in those tickets for another flight, another time. I didn’t want to be anywhere near Washington, D.C. on the shameful day that we handed over this country to someone who doesn’t care about it.

January 21, though, dawned in a different light. Energized and angry, I joined a local march, wanting to be in my town, publicly staking my claim. I asked my friends and family to send pictures from the marches they attended. The photos poured in, from folks making their way to marches across the country, in Washington, New York, Durham, Oakland. My mother marched for the first time; my sister and best friends boarded busses and got rides with strangers; my brother carried a friend’s toddler for a while; my friends’ 12-year-old held her homemade sign high.

And I, in my small, rural town, felt a part of something much bigger.

There is a tremendous amount of work to be done, every day, in the current political climate. My to-do list always includes, at a minimum, calls to Congress. It is easy to get overwhelmed. But when I look at the pictures from that day in January, I am buoyed by the knowledge that there are people across this country who care about the way we move forward. I feel grateful to be one of them. I am also incredibly grateful to live in a place where I do not have to silence my voice, though I worry that right is in jeopardy.

Perhaps more than anything, I am endlessly thankful for friends and family who turn their compassion into action; who took the risk to stand up for their beliefs; and who inspire me daily with the way they live their lives, trying to make the world better for those around them. Even when it feels like the road ahead is long, and winding, and filled with muck and mud, I know they’re committed to not just following it, but instead to building it as they go along, one step at a time, turning towards each other for help, and making the world into something new.

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