BY BOB BEARDEN
Reflecting on what a wonderful day last Saturday was and how we can keep the great karma that came from that event going: I am struck by how lucky I was to be a part of the 2nd Annual Women’s March and to be able to march not only for the reason we were all marching for, but also in memory of so many women who have made a difference in my life, beginning with my Cherokee grandmother Edith who helped nurture me early in life and set an example of what a good, kind, caring human being should be.
My mother, Ruth, of course, whose unconditional love made me into the man I became. Not by any means perfect, but because of what she taught me by both personal hands on instruction and by the example she set for me to follow. I marched for her because she taught me that all people matter and that if all people didn’t then – as we say at my church – none of us do.
She taught me to respect all people regardless of their station in life or the color of their skin or their religious beliefs. She taught me to give back for that which I had received. She taught me real family values and that love trumps hate every time. She also believed in standing up for what was right, and she taught me to speak my mind whenever I saw a wrong being committed.
That is something that has sometimes gotten me criticized and even vilified, especially at times when it seemed like I was the only one standing up and speaking out. But she set the bar very high, because she never cared that other people didn’t agree with her. When she knew she was right she would stand up to anyone and anybody. She taught me about right and wrong and loving and caring and doing the right thing. I walked for her.
I walked for my late wife Joy, who taught me how to truly be a man, not macho but loving, caring and who always knew what the right thing to do was even if it didn’t always seem that way to me. She took me with all my many faults and showed me what loving and caring and humility was all about. I walked for her.
I walked for my son Steve, who loved people even when they didn’t love him back. Steve was always a sucker for anyone looking for a soft touch. He was his mother’s child and as many times as he got slapped in the face by life he never wavered from his kind-hearted ways. I walked for him.
I walked for the love of his life Robin, who left this world much too soon and who was a perfect match for the man Steve was. She was the most kind, caring, and compassionate human being I have ever known. She was purely and simply a sweetheart who despite many adversities thrown in her pathway never lost the sweetness of her soul. I walked for her.
I walked for my niece who is the most kind and gentle soul that one would swear she was somehow cloned from my late wife Joy. They were so much alike that they were more like mother and daughter than aunt and niece. I walked for her.
And I walked also for all the people in my life who have made my life memorable and worth the living. For the many friends who have nurtured me and loved me despite my failings and imperfections. I walked for all the members of my church family who have had such a tremendous effect upon who I am.
And I walked especially for all my many, many friends and fellow union members. There are so many in my life.
Yes, Jan. 20 was a momentous day and a great continuation of what women of the world started in 2017. The outpouring of love was amazing. We must keep it going! It matters that what we witnessed both this year and last year in these marches – which took place across the globe – is that we let the people of America and the world know that we will not go backwards into yesteryear. That hate, fear, racism and bigotry are not acceptable norms. That we will not allow those four words to divide us.
That we will from this day forth let our souls be guided by love, kindness, compassion and goodwill. Those are the truths that the Jewish Rabbi from Nazareth taught us and that Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us should continue to be the guideposts of our lives upon this earth.
They have passed the baton to us. Let us not drop it as we go forward into whatever fate beholds us.
– Bob Bearden is a trustee of the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation and a member of Mayflower Congregational Church UCC in Oklahoma City