Front Porch Politics

Hours home from the Women’s March in D.C., I was still absorbing the experience. Half a million or more of us were packed for hours in a claustrophobic crush of humanity, and experienced nothing but good will.


Women’s March, D.C.

Back on the bus for the last cramped nine hour leg of our trip home, Ziggy, our Rally Bus driver asked, “What’s wrong with you guys? You had no complaints! People always complain on these trips.”  His smile was large as we presented him with our “pass-the-hat” tip and a bag of homemade cookies in appreciation for his unflagging patience, wit, and humor our entire trip.

At home, I pored over news about the marches. No violence. Not in DC, not in Montpelier, in Vermont, where I now live. Not in my former hometown, Portland, Oregon, where many initially peaceful protests in recent months have  turned violent. Millions of diverse people around the world had shared their viewpoints with respect and kindness.


Montpelier, VT        Photo credit: Laura Grace Brown

And then I came to Mary Chapin Carpenter’s post. Like so many people lately, particularly those with large public followings: Author Jane Yolen, Singer Carole King, Educator Kylene Beers, Mary Chapin Carpenter had experienced hateful postings on her facebook wall and had to call people out.

“Those of you who have checked in here in the last few days may notice that certain posts and related follow up threads have been removed. These posts contained obscenities, inflammatory rhetoric, intentional falsehoods, ugly statements, provocative images and phrases that any reasonable person would find objectionable.”

These are difficult times. A friend and I were recently commiserating the weight and sadness of having family members on opposite sides of a political divide that seems a Grand Canyon of the heart.

I have been shocked by the hatefulness of posting on social media. It’s been a building issue for some time, but surrounding the recent election, it seems so much worse. I understand that fearful people do not always present their best selves. But these nasty, claws-out personalized attacks toward/between strangers are bewildering, frightening, make one feel out of balance in the world we live in.

Mary Chapin Carpenter, whose witty and often lyrical wordsmithing , has been a constant backdrop for my life continued:

porch2012_9“I consider my social media platforms to be a 21st Century version of a front porch. In that spirit, those who traffic in ugly, hateful, derogatory and diminishing words are not welcome here.

In peace, love and music ~ mcc”

I embrace Mary’s front porch analogy. Porches are places we share as invited guests. They are intimate spaces where we can look each other in the eye. We tend to bring our better selves to face to face meetings, when our words are shared to the rhythm of rockers,


D.C. Police 1/21/17

sweetened by sweating glasses of iced tea, and tempered by the combined wisdom of our company.

It was much like that in the recent marches. We were all guests sharing the “front porch” of the cities in which we marched. We were intergenerational, interdemonimational, multicultural, and diversely gendered. We shared our hopes, fears, and the rawest concerns of our hearts on proffered signs, often in such intimacy, we could hear each other’s  breathing. And there was nothing but peace.


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12 thoughts on “Front Porch Politics

  1. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s analogy is brilliant! I’ve also been dismayed at the negativity on display about Saturday’s marches. When did our understanding of the common good, or the first amendment, for that matter, grow so wide. I’m listening to Krista Tippett’s book, Becoming Wise (which you would love), and she talks about starting conversations by finding common ground in everyday things like the weather or our children. In other words, exactly what we’d chat about on the front porch!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I marched in Portland, OR. I agree, can’t stand the hatefulness people seem to have on social media. Thank you for sharing your experience.


  3. My husband and I talk about this all the time. He does no social media. He says we should just pick up the phone and talk to each other. And I’ve heard stories about political discussions that could get quite heated on porches here in the south, sometimes with violent results. There is a history. And now we are watching history happen. I am so proud of my marching sisters. Peace!


  4. Thank you for marching in Montpelier! I also live in Vermont (Jericho). I went to the march in DC and was so impressed by the peaceful nature of the march. The DC march was incredible — but I’m so proud of our little brave state for gathering such a crowd on Saturday!


  5. i, too, marched here in Raleigh and my daughter marched in DC. We were overwhelmed by the peacefulness and the solidarity of the groups of women, men, and children who marched. The subsequent backlash from the other side, including mean-spirited tweets by our own senator in NC, have left many of us bewildered.

    Thank you for your post. You are not alone.


    • I will be thinking of you in North Carolina. I am fortunate to enjoy the support in congress of Senators Leahy and Sanders. It will take all of us reaching out to one another to create a continued force for good. But I believe we can do it.


  6. A great reflection. It has seemed the harsh words come from both sides, yet each side thinks only the other is being unreasonable. I hope we can all be “citizens” in the truest sense of the word and discuss the issues respectfully…through civil discourse as the Paideia school where I teach strives to help our students learn.


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