by Sonya Langan
On Earth Day, I had the privilege of participating in the March for Science in Albany, New York. As with the rest of the country, thousands of people showed up to meet local scientists and educators, discuss current trends within the conservation community, and of course march the streets with truly spectacular signs. We even had one gentleman wear a two foot paper mache for the whole hour-long march.
Even more than the amount of people that turned out in support of science and conservation was the shared passion and energy of everyone there. I know how we have all witnessed the devastating division of our brothers and sisters over the past few months, and I for one have felt almost as if we have moved backwards in our thinking and morals as a collective group in so many aspects. But for a few hours at the March - I saw politicians sitting on the grass with dreadlock-sporting musicians, a woman in a habit making signs with a girl wearing a hijab, white hands holding black hands high in solidarity, teachers and scientists inspiring younger generations of all genders to love science and love the natural world. People of all ages, races, and religions came together, united in their common goal of protecting our planet, and so many boundaries that have seemed so insurmountable simply vanished.
Many news stories are claiming that an “unprecedented” number of people showed up worldwide to March on Earth Day, but I don’t think that’s fair to say. For months now, the human collective has been in turmoil over global events that pose ramifications not just for the town, state, or country of their origin, but impact all of us - all of us, even the plants and animals we share this earth with. These attacks on our home and our progression in science have finally woken up the minds and hearts of the human spirit and given us the empowerment and direction to become a force for change. That desire to stand for something, to help, that need to be a part of something greater than oneself could be found in the eyes and voices of every single person marching that day. And how truly beautiful it is to see that inspiration shining bright.
What I think most people worry about is that nothing can be done unless it is done by force. But wouldn’t that be in direct contradiction to what the peaceful protests of the Women’s March and March for Science were trying to achieve? How can we hope to make any impact if we don’t fight back with the same weapons we’ve had used against us? I am no longer worried about not being heard, or not making a difference. The overwhelming peace and love emanating from our March in Albany could not be ignored or forgotten, and this was just one place that participated in the March. One has to believe that if we as a whole could share such fear and discontent, then banding together for change will put out such permeating strength that it is unthinkable that we will not achieve our mission. The March for Science may have been just one day, but the momentum we gained can only be the beginning for what we will accomplish together.