“The greatest two factors of change,” shouted the speaker on the Capitol steps, “are money and people. We don’t really have any money, but we do have a lot of people!”
The gathering Collective of Poor and Angry roared. Toward the back of the crowd, two friends and I, who’d just arrived for the March for Science, professed our sympathies with the combined volume of someone trying to guess the lyrics to a song he doesn’t know right as the words come out of his friends’ mouths.
Speaker: *indistinct words*
Friend 1: What did she say?
Me: No idea.
Friend 2: woo
Speaker: Something, something, something… science!
Me: *shouts* I can’t hear much but I support and appreciate your good intentions!
Can’t imagine why that rallying cry didn’t catch on.
We eventually tore away from the Capitol to begin the actual march. More people had appeared since we’d arrived, so turning around, we were now positioned in the middle-front. I caught sight of my Bio professor in the crowd, snuck a picture to my class’s group chat, and proceeded to evade her—as you do—while masses of people spilled into 11th St.
The skies were gray with symbolism. Our segment of the crowd was quieter than I’d expected, with one megaphone-wielding man—probably the only chant leader assigned to the entire march—halfheartedly reading off a printed list of chants. He’d start off a chant, it’d catch on weakly after a couple repeats, and then it’d fizzle out. (The whole trailing off, noticing no one paying him attention, and then forging onward anyway just really resonated with how I live out my days.)
Wasn’t exactly his fault—much of his audience consisted of people with signs like “things are so bad even the introverts had to come”—and many of the chants were comically un-catchy.
- What do we want? EVIDENCE-BASED RESEARCH! When do we want it? AFTER PEER REVIEW!
- Hey hey, ho ho, we won’t let this planet go!
- Global warming is global warning! Took me several repeats to realize they weren’t just repeatedly shouting global warming is global warming, which is probably something only Lin-Manuel Miranda could pull off.
- Science isn’t fake; that’s what makes it great!
- Less invasions, more equations!
- Nasty STEMinist!
- Science not silence! Stand up for science!
- We are Ohm’s Resistance! This one earns my reluctant admiration.
And my favorite…
- WE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO BE HERE!
… though I’m still not sure whether it was an actual chant or people just screaming into the void. It’s a fine line, I’d say.
The three of us gradually picked up our pace, hoping areas closer to the front might have higher energy, but found that wherever we went, the excitement seemed to die with us. Nevertheless, we persisted (in sucking the life out of more protestors, probably) until we encountered a disappointed-looking Abraham Lincoln.
We glanced at the Ghost of America Past wordlessly standing in the middle of the street, looked at each other, and then shared an unspoken agreement to call it a day. It was one of those moments to which you know nothing that follows can quite measure up.
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