Drops of Water

“Can we be like drops of water, falling on the stone, splashing, breaking, dispersing in air, weaker than the stone by far but be aware, that as time goes by, the rock will wear away.” Meg Christian & Holly Near


Who knew those lyrics, 40 years later, would be so apt? (see below for a link to the entire song)

I’m young enough that I came on the tail end of the women’s and feminist movements of the 70s and 80s. But I knew enough to appreciate the struggles and sacrifices of those who fought for the rights and freedoms I came to take for granted.

I think for many of those women, it has been an ongoing sore point that young people, especially young women –  lesbians or queer (or whatever of the million other words they’re using, because, you know, they don’t want to be labeled…) – have no appreciation of what it took to gain what they take for granted. And I know older black people, those who marched with Martin Luther King, those who remember segregated doors and water fountains and everything else, feel the same way about young African-Americans not having a sense of the history that those older folks fought through.

But maybe that’s the way it should be. Maybe young people should be able to take for granted the expectation that they will be treated equally under the law; that they will not be discriminated against at work; that they will have full access to their medical care and decisions about their own bodies and reproductive rights; that they will have the right to marry whomever they choose.

In a normal world – the world we enjoyed just a year ago – they were entitled to all of those expectations. But a few people have always realized that we cannot take those rights for granted. That realization has been driven home forcefully these past several months, but especially in the last two weeks with the attempt to dismantle women’s rights to birth control and reproductive decisions under their healthcare, and the chipping away at legal protections for LGBTQ people, and the continued controversy over black Americans exercising their First Amendment rights by protesting racial injustice.

Now, more than ever, we really have to stay aware. We have to protest and, when the time comes, VOTE to change things!

Individually, we may be only drops of water hitting back against those who would hold us down but, as the song says, over time, the rock will wear away. And if enough drops fall, the water can turn into a flood – a flood of protests, a flood of outrage, a flood of righteous indignation as we demand the return and the protection of rights we should be able to take for granted.





8 thoughts on “Drops of Water

  1. Oh, thank you, Caren, for the memories!
    The first women’s musical concert I attended was Meg and Holly Near, as they toured thecountry in a little white Toyota station wagon.
    They did two shows inCleveland Heights, the first “open” and the second “womyn only”.
    I was too in shock to go to the second, as I’d not yet come out, even to myself.
    Two weeks later, Alix Dobkin playedthe same venue, closing with “Talking Lesbian Blues”, and asked all the non- lesbians to leave.
    I stayed.
    The rock, indeed, will wear away….

    • What great memories, Caren! I never got to see Meg or Holly, but did get to see Cris Williamson in concert. What a feeling! Fantastic music, touching your soul, and all the women! Or womyn… I was fine with either. And I’m so glad you stayed!

      • Oh, yes I did stay ~ and had no idea where that choice would take me! But no matter the struggle, the rock will always – eventually – wear away. Sometimes the “eventually” is hard to bear, and that’s when we need to be community, no matter how we spell “womyn/women/womben/wymn/ etc.
        I look back on 40 years of activism, and this is the song I always return to. I’m so glad you young whippersnappers still remember it! Hugs, Caren!

  2. “Step by step, the longest march can be won,
    Many stones can form an arch, singly none
    And by union what we will can be accomplished still
    Drops of water turn a mill, singly none.”
    The lyrics to this song of the right to organize labor unions is as fitting in today’s struggles as it was a hundred years ago.

    • Actually over 150 years ago the words of Step By Step were written by Mineworkers labor organizers, and put to an Irish folk melody by Pete Seeger in the 1940s.
      The songs of the Women’s movement, labor rights movement, Civil Rights movement, LGBTQ rights movement give me hope and strength. Never, never give up.

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