Today my daughter learned how to be a political activist. Nothing big, nothing flashy. In fact, it didn’t take much effort at all. She simply had to not do something.
You see, for the first time since she has been making her way up from Daisy to Brownie to Junior, she will not be selling Girl Scout Cookies.
And my daughter loves selling Girl Scout Cookies almost as much as I love eating them.
But this year we’re both willing to make the sacrifice.
You might not know this, but for the past 100 years, the Girls Scouts of America has been marching in the Presidential Inauguration Day Parade. Pretty cool, right? They were there to be immersed in the epicenter of American leadership, for Girl Scouts are nothing if not little leaders in the making. Heck, these girls have a law they need to know by heart to ensure they not only become leaders, but great ones!
I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.
As they’d march across our TV screens in the parades, their Girl Scout Law could be seen in the straightness of their spines and friendliness of their waves, proud to have all the eyes of the world on them. Having them there represented where, one would hope, the grown men and women in power around them came from. The backbone of the kind of people that America expect to put in charge of things. Their presence showed their faith in their leaders, respecting their differences but giving them their support, year after year after year.
But this year is a bit different.
This year the person being sworn in as president has been proven via video footage, audio clip, social media posts, court documentations, speaking engagements, interviews, business transactions, and cabinet nominations to not follow the Girl Scout Law at all. Not only that, he has proven himself time and time again to go against it – particularly when it comes to women and girls. Often to the detriment of the emotional and physical well-being of women and girls. An example? Him clearly spelling out how he sexually assaults women he finds attractive, knowing he can get away with it as a celebrity, and encouraging another man to go ahead and do it, too.
In response to this, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to show up in Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March (and even more all around the world) to remind the new president that women’s rights are just as valid as men’s. That women and girls need to be shown more respect than he has been showing. They will march as a representation that women matter. Girls matter.
And yet, despite the evidence of how the new president has viewed and treated women for decades and appears to plan to treat them in the future, as well as go against everything in the Girl Scout Law, Girl Scouts of America has chosen to continue to march in the Presidential Inaugural Parade. They insist it is a tradition to do so.
As if tradition is more important than the message we give our girls in the present.
It is not a stretch to say that by marching in this parade, the Girl Scouts of America are showing their support of a man whose actions and statements go directly against everything the girls we have in scouts are being taught to believe.
So what should our girls believe?
That they should respect themselves and others, be considerate and caring?
All I know is that my daughter and her troop have spent years helping the homeless, elderly, and needy — anyone they could, no questions asked. They swear to be kind and good and fair, and work to keep each other up to their promises. They encourage one another to keep aiming high, a beautiful display of girl power and equality.
The person the Girl Scouts of America are marching for goes against all of that, and I simply cannot support that decision.
I get that not marching this year would be a HUGE bold statement for the organisation to make. I’m confident that many members voted for the new president (heck – a lot of people did). But time teaches us things. We are seeing a flood of people regretting their votes, and making new efforts to correct the way this train seems to be going. Girl Scouts has always been about shaping girls to make good choices, always keep learning, always bettering themselves, even when things get tough. It would be so very tough and awkward and uncomfortable for those in charge of the Girl Scouts to turn down the invitation to continue the 100-year streak of marching in the parade at this point. But I still believe it is the right thing to do. I believe it to my core.
So how to make my opinion about that decision heard?
Yes, I have sent a message with my concerns and pleas for them to change their mind in reply to the email our local chapter sent out, emailed headquarters, and messaged them on Facebook, but organisations like this need to feel the message somewhere else: in the wallet.
This is why we are leaving our order form blank this year. It took some research into where the cookie money goes and how our local troop manages the expenses of running itself, but in our case, we can see that by not selling the cookies, we can take a stance without hurting our girls. Our little troop can still keep doing good in the community so the community does not suffer for the poor choices of those at the top of the organisation, while sending a message to the higher-ups that they need to make better decisions.
I’m not gonna lie: it sucks to have a cookie-free year. My daughter and I are both upset about this whole thing, but know it’s the right thing to do. We’re telling our usual customers why we’re not selling, and so far everyone supports our decision. We have taken a little step into political activism, putting ourselves in control of the situation to make it better. Because this is about so much more than cookies. It’s about following through on our belief that sometimes you have to do the uncomfortable thing to do the right thing.
I only wish that the people in charge of the decision to march in the parade had felt the same way.