Inspiring words of Courage and Compassion

We at the WNYPC are very grateful to so many for Saturday. Speakers were eloquent, varied, so disciplined and respectful of the time, and so inspired and inspiring.

Two especially moving were Jaimie Marzullo, Chair of our Communications Committee, and her son Aiden. Jaimie’s very wise and wonderful words are below. We are honored to share them here.

We were also honored by the courage and compassion of Aiden. At only 9 years old, he was so filled with the Spirit that he stood in front of more than 3000, and said, “I will never stop fighting for the equal rights. And to all the kids, when you fall down, I hope you always get back up again.” In the face of overwhelming emotion, he held it together to say what he had to say to the crowd and especially the other children.

With people like Jaimie and her loving and earnest family (including daughter Isabel and husband Nick) in the mix, and the so many – the participants, speakers and musicians at No Hate No Mandate, the determined participants in DC and all over the country, the many active and those now coming alive with the urgency to stand up for each other and the creation, how can we fail?!

As we chanted under Jim Anderson’s great guidance, “One, we are the people; Two, they cannot stop us; Three, We will not let them wreck our planet.”

And, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  said, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”

Jaimie’s Speech

We’re all here today in search of an answer: How are we going to defend the values we believe in?

We are here not because we are pessimistic, but because we are hopeful. Because we still see the light of this vision we share, of an America in which our humanity is sufficient to secure our respect, in which the fruits of our labors matter the same whether the hands that produced them are white or brown, or use sign language, or dress a body whose gender is not the one assigned, or were born here or carry the memory of a land left behind.

This is a big vision, but America has always been the land of those who dream big and people who were willing to stand for something bigger than themselves.

So now, in our time, we come together to stand for something bigger than ourselves.

We stand for something bigger than ourselves because that is the legacy of 238 years of fighting to get it right, of moving the needle toward equality by shouting when we were told to be quiet, and being insistent when we were told to get over it.

We stand for something bigger than ourselves because this thing we pursue is the product of founding principles refined through 10 generations that never stopped believing in a tomorrow that would be more inclusive than today.

We stand for something bigger than ourselves because we know one cry for change can be ignored but the roar of justice coming for you cannot.

We stand for something bigger than ourselves because it is the right thing to do and if you don’t understand that then I fear there may not be a way to grow compassion in your heart but we will fight for you anyway.

The future arrives every day. If we are not taming it, then it is taming us, and it is up to us to ensure that when we lay the path of progress, we do not leave behind debris in the form of people… and that the road will not be paved over the top of brown bodies or gay bodies or trans bodies or differently abled bodies or Muslim bodies or women’s bodies… bodies that history has, for far too long, relegated to unmarked graves and asterisks in textbooks.

White folks, we move through a world that opens doors for us while barring windows for others, and I want to challenge us to listen more than we speak, learn more than we teach, and follow more than we lead. We consent to be in this struggle, while people of color do not. We consent to teach our children about bigotry, while other children learn it when they’re labeled with slurs. We get to consent to this tension in our lives, and that doesn’t mean we don’t have a place here, it just means that we have to KNOW our place here, and be a source of amplification for marginalized voices in a world that is slow to tune to a new frequency.

I march because this is a time of adversity, and heroes are born from adversity. Our power is in our willingness to do the hard things, because this vision we have is not a place we are going, it is a thing we are building with the strength of our backs and the sweat of our brows and the hands we will use to make phone calls and write letters and knock on doors and meet new allies and look up the address of Chris Collins’ office and GO THERE. We will build it with steel in our spines and determination in our minds and love in our hearts. We will take up this work every day, we will find solace in this army we grew on nothing more than words and hope, and we will build our vision together.