Women's March in DC

The women's march and the inauguration were, in a way, concurrent symbols of what is great about America.

First, there was the peaceful transfer of power, and the celebration of this country's free and fair elections. Then, there were those who were unhappy with the results of that election, letting their voices be heard on issues that are important to them.

What I do worry about are some of the more extremist elements of either side.

Many of the protesters greatly dislike our new President and his supporters and that is their right. But those who held up signs comparing him to a Nazi, or made speeches claiming they wanted to "bomb" the White House are not only wrong, they are completely defeating any sympathy non-marchers might have for their cause.

Making incest jokes about the President and his daughter isn't helpful, either, and certainly doesn't convey a message of love. And just so nobody accuses me of being one-sided, anybody who engages in similar behavior on the right is just as guilty.

While I believed strongly in the Tea Party's message of wanting a government that is limited and not overarching in its authority, I was greatly upset by some of the signs I saw disparaging President Obama on a personal level, rather than on the basis of policy.

I have a friend who flew into DC for the inauguration and found himself sitting next to somebody heading to DC to attend the march.
And he told me an amazing thing happened.

They talked for the entire flight and had a respectful, polite discussion. Their disagreements were vast, but in the end, they came away realizing they had more in common than they thought and even exchanged phone numbers.

I would like to see more of this.

People get so wrapped up in their beliefs and their echo chambers that they forget that ultimately, despite the rhetoric, we all want the same thing: A safe and prosperous life.

That's why it is important to stand up for what we believe in, but to remember that the people who disagree with you aren't necessarily bad people, they may just see things differently than you do.

So don't write them off as bigots or idiots and call them names, instead, try making a rational argument to persuade them.
And remember that for as much as some of us struggle here in the United States, it is nothing compared to what others go through elsewhere.

I was born and raised in Pakistan. I know very well what intolerance and the denying of rights looks like. And for those women who stood up and marched, I say great, exercise your freedom of speech. But remember that many women worldwide don't have that privilege.

Personally, I would love to see people from all sides - left, right, and center - march for those who are truly disenfranchised. I'm talking about women, LGBT members, and other minorities who are treated like property in far less civilized countries.

We can all come together to descend on the United Nations and demand an end to the selling of women into slavery. The execution of gays in places like Iran. The abuse of children in the third world.

This is something that everybody from Madonna and Ashley Judd to Ted Cruz and John McCain could get behind.

It would unite us as Americans and as humans.

And it would send a clear message to those in the world who are far more oppressed than anybody in this country could ever imagine that everybody deserves human rights.