When the saints go marching

Selena McPherson / The News

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board

Selena McPherson / The News

During his farewell speech, President Obama offered a timely and direct call to action to the American people:

“if something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing.  If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures and run for office yourself.  Show up.  Dive in.  Persevere.”

For part of the nation, the inauguration of President-elect Trump on Jan. 20 will be a celebration, a step toward change and revived greatness.

For the other part, the event will be a somber reminder of the work to be done in our communities, networks and mindsets.

For both camps, the event will undoubtedly be a call to action.It’s the ultimate American mantra – pull yourself up by your bootstraps and do something.

It seems, though, that it is unclear what “doing something” means for non-Trump supporters. Exhibit A: the March for Equality and Social Justice to happen on Saturday, after the inauguration, in Murray.

According to the event’s Facebook description, “the March for Equality and Social Justice is a celebration of the principles of democracy, a demonstration of solidarity with the disenfranchised, and a demand of our government/leaders that they uphold the United States Constitution and be accountable to those principles of equality and justice for all.”

It’s a lovely statement, and it clarifies that the event is not a protest, but rather a political observance.

What exactly, though, does it actually mean?

If the march attendees are going to “demand” something of their government, will they be contacting local or national officials during the gathering? Or, is the presence alone of like-minded individuals in a small Kentucky town loud enough for the leaders in Washington to hear?

Other posters on the event page make it clear that the march is a time to express disappointments in Trump’s discourse and election – but is a group expression of disappointment effective in making any group receive the treatment they deserve? Or will this demonstration unfortunately fulfill the stereotype of both millennials and college students that we are overly sensitive and prone to trendy yet fruitless protests?

As a media organization, we understand the power of communication and effective reporting – shedding light on an issue by way of writing, videography or recording can certainly lead to action and increased awareness. We’re also aware that talking about something – or, more fittingly, writing a critique of something only a small amount of people will consume – is akin to a small group of people comforting each other through a brief walk and discussion.

Intention is not the same as action, and unfortunately, concerning marches like this one, it’s very unclear if any measurable, advantageous action will take place.

It isn’t that small marches cannot be successful – in February 2016, the March for Education proved to be highly impactful, and many legislators engaged in discourse with students about the issue as state news outlets noticed their efforts.

The march for equality and social justice, however, seems to lack the vital specificity – not to mention a date that would make the efforts a prevention of Trump’s comments rather than a recap – it needs in order to be worthwhile.

Perhaps the march attendees will attempt to communicate with Trump supporters in hopes of expanding their opinions, or help “the disenfranchised” by volunteering at the local soup kitchen or women’s center.

In the meantime, The Murray State News staff will be hosting a sixteen-week march for campus information and media awareness to take place between the walls of 111 Wilson Hall, wherein we express our thoughts about the state of the university and demand our printer uphold the principle of black ink that doesn’t smudge.