Interview with Peace Journalist, Bob Koehler
#3 in the "Signs of Sisterhood" series**
My guest today is Bob Koehler, author, activist, and peace journalist.
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome back to OpEdNews, Bob. I understand that you were at the Women's March in Chicago on the day after the inauguration. Why did you attend the march?
Bob Koehler: An inner need to be there countered my Saturday inertia. I knew something big, something important was about to happen and I also felt an aversion to going downtown, dealing with all those people. I didn't leave the house till noon, so I arrived after the rally in Grant Park, but in time to be part of the flow of people marching joyously down Jackson Street to the Federal Building. I knew in my heart I needed to be here, that this was the future breaking loose on the streets of Chicago.
JB: What were you expecting? What did you think you were going to see? I know that the estimates, even by those coordinating the march, were way, way off. Apparently, you weren't the only one fighting their Saturday inertia!
BK: I really didn't know what to expect. I've been caught in the post-election blues, feeling awash in hopelessness, even though I'm an optimist at heart. So I sort of went down there expecting to be disappointed, to see something less than the huge crowds being predicted. I went as a journalist doing his job, without expectation, just to see what was there. When I arrived, I felt something extraordinary. It was an incredible January afternoon, 57 degrees, unbelievably beautiful. And the spirit of the crowd reflected that. As soon as I hit the heart of the event, the thousands or hundreds of thousands of people -- of all ages, all races, lots of men and of course lots and lots and lots of women -- flowing down Jackson, I felt I was in the middle of something brand new, just as the Civil Rights movement was brand new in, say, 1955. There was more here than just opposition to a controversial president. This was about building the world to replace the world that has wound up being led by Trump.
JB: I'm glad to hear that there were lots of men. I was wondering about that. If you hadn't been a journalist, would you have felt as comfortable going there? Even though it was clearly a women-oriented, women-driven event, did you nevertheless feel included?
BK: Absolutely. That was part of what was so amazing about it. The event clearly was focused on women's rights, but those rights didn't feel in any way separate to me from my own rights and needs. The men that were there seemed as fully engaged as the women. And it was a rally in support of an enormously diverse array of issues: the rights of women, the LGBTQ rights, the harmony of races, the need to honor and respect Planet Earth, and the need beyond all needs to live in peace: to create peace. Such a goal excludes no one. Women's needs and women's anger drove the event, made it happen, but it transcended the initial anger. This was a joyous celebration as much as it was an act of resistance and opposition to the new president and his clueless narcissism, his lack of moral authority.
JB: What's the take-away, Bob? What did you bring home with you Saturday?
BK: Well, I'm still thinking about that, but in essence I brought away a belief that some big change is emerging: something on the order of the Civil Rights movement, but larger and broader. These rallies around the world -- 673 of them, involving, so the organizers say, almost 5 million people -- were larger than the sum of their parts. Larger than the participants, larger than the issues they brought with them. I believe the rallies will continue -- and grow. And part of this change is joy. I felt so much joy, being with this diverse group of people -- which included the police, the (very) few counter-protesters. We all belong on this planet, we all deserve to be able to maximize our lives. We are all part of the Circle of Life.
JB: Amen. Anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up?
BK: I'm actually tempted to say thank you, Donald Trump, for sparking this movement. But I hasten to add, this isn't about Trump. It's so much bigger than that.
The Devil whispered in my ear: 'You're not strong enough to withstand the storm.' Today, I whispered in the devil's ear: 'I am the storm!'
(Image by Yael Brunwasser) Details DMCA
JB: I'm awfully glad you didn't give in to that initial case of Saturday inertia, Bob. Aren't you? Thanks so much for talking with me again, Bob. This one was fun!
Some of the many terrific signs Bob spotted at the march:
I love science
Men of quality do not fear equality
Impeach the a**hole
Girls just wanna have FUN-
Equality is not a big ask
Grab 'em by the profits
No wall no registry no misogyny
You're damn right my body is my temple. I am the God it was built for.
Grannies fight back
We're all immigrants (except Native Americans)
Keep your hands out of my wherever
Keep your hands off my rights
Jesus didn't grab my p*ssy
I'm with her (held by a guy)
A woman's place is not in the home, it's in the world. We have power (held by a little girl about 5)
No uterus no opinion
Equality is not a big ask
Mr. President Release Your Taxes
Love is love
**Other interviews in this series (so far):
Check out Bob's powerful piece on the march, The Birth of a Movement
My previous interviews with Bob:
Bob Koehler Weighs in on the Recount 12.2.2016