Why I Went to Women’s March in Helsinki

A little over a week ago, hundreds of Helsinkians gathered at Kansalaistori to protest against President Trump and the sexism, racism, and overall hate and fearmongering that he represents. I decided to go, but there also seemed to be confusion among some people as to why people would organise a Women’s March here in Finland, where everything is great and Trump’s decisions won’t affect us. I'm sure there are as many reasons for participating as there were participants, but here's me, speaking for myself.

One of the reasons I went was totally selfish: throughout Trump’s campaign and during the weeks before his inauguration, I felt a growing sense of helplessness, sorrow and anxiety about what his presidency would mean not just to citizens of the US, but the whole world. Trump became, horrifyingly enough, the first thing I thought about in the morning and the last thing on my mind before falling asleep. Attending the Women’s March was a way of feeling like I was physically doing something to make a stand, to signal that I wasn’t okay with what was going on and to show solidarity with everyone who had been and would be hurt by Trump.

Photo: Aino Ahoniemi

 

Because solidarity is what we need right now: more love in the face of growing hatred, more unity when we encounter divisions that at first seem far too vast to overcome. I’m sure me and a couple of hundred others showing up to stand in the cold and say Love Trumps Hate won’t do much concrete good, but it’s something. And lots of little somethings just might become one big thing – like, say, a demonstration across all 7 continents in almost 700 cities. That’s not nothing.

Solidarity alone isn’t enough, though. And so I guess I also joined the march to get myself started on the path of doing something about things that bother me. I vote, of course, and I’m definitely somewhat woke and trying my best to be even more so, but there’s always more you could be doing. Whether it’s showing up to a protest, emailing a Finnish MP about an issue I care deeply about, or writing this piece, there are things I maybe haven’t done before but should, and will, start doing now. As a Finn, I grew up taking democracy, free speech and human rights absolutely for granted. It pays to keep in mind that they were all fought for and earned by the generations that came before me and it is up to us to hold on to them, protect them and further them. Trump’s terrifying campaign and its success were the reminder I needed, and as his first term as the President of the United States leaves its mark on the world, democracy, free speech and human rights will continue to be things I fight and march for, regardless of whether I'm in Washington DC or in Helsinki.

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