We don’t usually try to influence what people do during the Procession–except ask that everyone follow some basic guidelines for safety and harmony.
But this year the Procession takes place two days before a highly contentious Presidential election. So we thought we should say a few things.
- As unconventional as it looks, the Procession is essentially a funeral, a memorial. People are grieving and focused on their beloved dead. As you prepare for the Procession, ask yourself, “Is what I have planned for the Procession respectful of the energy of the Procession and the other people who will be there?”
- At the Procession, remember that there are topics that appear “political” to some, but for others are deeply felt personal losses that need to be mourned: the murders of trans-people, the deaths of black men at the hands of police officers, the deaths of Palestinian children during Israeli military actions, the deaths of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and much more.
- Just as you have a deeply held need to process and reflect, so do others. They may do it differently than you do. Please remember that the Procession invites and includes all cultures and beliefs. That is a large part of what makes it unique and lasting.
If someone’s actions at the Procession seem to you to be “political,” we invite you to take a moment to consider what their personal stake might be and what kind of grief they might be expressing. If your initial response is “that’s political and doesn’t belong here,” might that reaction be influenced by your preconceived ideas of what grief looks like? Or of whom it is appropriate to grieve? Or how?
That brings us to the election.
This is a high-stakes, highly charged, critical election. We know that. Deeply.
If you are thinking about bringing the election into the Procession, we ask you to think carefully about why and how. The Procession is a place for people to publicly mourn and celebrate their beloved dead. Will your actions be respectful of the sacredness of that process? Although the Procession doesn’t look like anyone’s traditional funeral, it is exactly that for many people. Would your actions be appropriate in that context?
In truth, we would rather the Procession be election-free, but we will make no rules (aside from the basic guidelines mentioned earlier) about how people choose to participate.
The beauty of the Procession is that it is not a top-down controlled, choreographed event. It is created by the people who attend and the millions of choices you make about how to participate. It is made sacred and profane and ceremonial and silly and compassionate and kooky by what you bring to it and how. Each person must be guided by their own conscience and compassion.
It is an opportunity to create a diverse communal experience expansive enough to hold everyone and everything people choose to contribute, as long as we also choose to practice tolerance and respect.
To everyone who contributes to, creates, walks in, and loves the Procession: Thank you. We will see you in the streets!