Column: I criticize this country because I love it

This weekend millions of people participated in the Women’s March on Washington, a peaceful protest and rally in support of women’s rights. The march was initially organized for Washington, D.C., but sister marches of the same name sprouted up around the country and the world.

ABC reports more than 1 million people participated in more than 600 marches worldwide. As each new protest craze sweeps the nation, the consistent criticism I’ve heard from conservatives has been that liberals are only promoting dissent and declaring hatred for their country in visibly protesting their dissatisfactions.

From Inaugurate the Revolution to Black Lives Matter to the Women’s March on Washington, the message so many conservatives seem to be getting from protests is that liberals want to rip United States to shreds, one rallying cry at a time. The reality could not be further from the truth. In times of great change and division silence on the issues is compliance with the new order.

Opposition can be as simple as raising a voice, which is where protesting so often enters the equation.Protesting is one of the U.S.’s oldest traditions. Since the American Revolution, which was largely catalyzed by violent protests against taxes and lack of representation in government, protesting has been written into the American DNA and has yet to skip a generation. So when I see online jabs characterizing protesters as “whiny,” “hateful,” or “un-American,” I get confused.

Ultimately, protesting comes from a place of love. If my best friend were about to walk out the door with her skirt ridden up around her armpits, I would tell her she needed to fix her outfit. If I hated her, I would let her walk out into the world looking like a crazy person, but because I love her I point out her flaws, facilitate change and help her present her best self.

So when I protest government decisions, I’m saying Lady Liberty needs to check herself out in the mirror a few more times before she leaves the house. I respect her enough to be honest when things are looking bleak. Just as it takes a true friendship to be honest at the risk of hurting someone’s feelings, it takes a special kind of devotion to demand more from the country I love so much.

When I attended the Indianapolis location of the Women’s March on Washington this weekend, I found an atmosphere of pure love. The marchers around me all had different backgrounds and stories, but what we all had in common was a desire to stand with and for each other.I rallied with my sisters-in-arms because I wanted marginalized people around the country to know that I love them and that I will show up for them, physically if necessary and certainly metaphorically.

Yes, there is a large part of me that protests because I am angry, but my anger comes from the knowledge that we as a nation could be the most accepting, compassionate and free place in the world, yet recently we have chosen to promote leaders and legislation that undermines the fundamental human rights of so many. I love this country enough to demand that we do better because I believe that we can.

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