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"It's Your Turn to be Brave"

earthdance festival 2001
"It's Your Turn to be Brave"


In one spontaneous gesture, my friend and I packed up our car and took a day long road trip to an "earthdance" celebration. A yearly event to "unite the world in peace", this years gathering was more important than ever in the wake of September 11. A celebration that occurs in over 100 different cities in 45 countries throughout the world, this three-day festivity was a call to honor all of earth's inhabitants. The celebration was attended by the very young and folks into their seventies, by people from many different cultures, all of us gathering to perpetuate world peace.

Upon walking through the entrance, greeted by a stretch of dry land dotted with tents, I could physically feel the landscape of my mind change. No longer was I wondering whether or not the person that I encountered on my path, the young man selling me food, or the woman waiting in line to use the bathroom, was on the side of peace or war. It was a union of like minded souls, a place where I was free to be me, a right that had begun to feel severely restricted in the last few weeks with my peaceful, non-retaliatory stance. I felt a heavy and cumbersome weight slip away from my body as my breathing slowed to a natural rhythm allowing my muscles to loosen and my guard to drop.

Beckoned by the beat of drums and the powerful voice of a female singer, I made my way to the stage before setting up camp, even though the night sky had nearly swallowed up the light of day. The songstress - a Pakistani woman dressed in a traditional salwar - dancing free from inhibition or cultural restriction as she sang, gave me a feeling for hope for women everywhere. Her words, though sung in a language I am illiterate in, were an intoxicating brew that helped me drop further into relaxation.

Throughout the celebration smiles were aplenty and genuine, not forced through a mask of "patriotic" obligation. Friendliness too was commonplace amongst my peaceful weekend family, not a temporary stance to feign a sort of newfound national indivisibility.

There was abundant talk about love, peace and purpose, but none of war. Speakers spoke of what the world needs more of while singers captivated and elevated us with inspiring lyrics.

Mickey Hart, one of the highlights of the event, was invited to lead the largest (ever attempted) drum circle in the world. Prior to his appearance a handful of children, ranging from approximately four to eleven years of age, took the stage and told the audience what their ideas for peace were. An offering of straightforward and logical suggestions, two of the children, who had written their solutions out on paper, delivered profound messages that brought tears to my eyes, messages that put our "national leaders" to shame. One of the girls talked of the need to love, "to love even those who say that they hate us, because they really don't mean it". She said that Jesus and Buddha would want peace and that love is like light and that is magic. Wow! Rowen, a girl of perhaps seven or eight, told us that we needed to get along with each other, to work on being peaceful telling us that, "it is your turn to be brave."

The drum circle was an instigation for world peace. As Mickey Hart briefly, quietly warmed up on his drums on that sultry sunny afternoon, he told us that if we have no rhythm we have no peace. He lead us through a world drum chant, shouting out the names of countries throughout the world: To-ky-o, In-di-a, Eng-land, Rus-sia, Ger-ma-ny, Af-ri-ca... A call and response, we chanted and drummed in solidarity to the rhythm of each country.

Dancing and drumming for peace in the sweltering heat while dust from the dirt dance floor swirled in the air, the pulse of the earth resonated with the pulse of our collective heart beat.

As I looked at all of the people around me smiling and wildly drumming and dancing for peace, I could see that our dedication to peace while the world is in the claws of conflict was a true testament to our bravery.
Preaching to the choir.... 29.Oct.2001 23:26

Chris Pangle fan_letters@hotmail.com

Bravery? No offense, but that is just being with a bunch of people with the same ideas. There is no bravery in that... it is a comfort level.

Not to one up you or anything but last Friday I spent three hours suspended from a 13' cross in the middle of the Oregon State Memorial Union Quad while my friend handed out flyers that said "Ashamed To Be An American" giving statistics of civillians killed in Afghanistan since the US started bombing and, on the other side, "Remember The Terrorists of the State" a poem by me that... well, I'll have pictures and text up here as soon as I get the pictures developed. Needless to say, I now see why people die on the cross, that was not a fun experience. It's been three days and I can still barely get around since my muscles are sore as hell... however, it did open up a great deal of dialogue (From both sides...) and I feel that my comrade and I did a great deal to show people where we live the facts of war and let them come to conclusions on their own... as apposed to people who already have conclusions with few facts.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that change comes from enlightening people who don't share your POV. I personally think that anyone who does that is brave. Hiding with like minds is cowardly.

My two cents,

Chris Pangle

choir talk 30.Oct.2001 01:44

j

Chris -- it sounds like your action was really cool, and I look forward to seeing pics and an account of it up here.

about your comments re. "bravery" and the article above; i think you took the title out of context. That is, the title refers to a quotation from a speaker at the event, who seemed to be talking about the actions one must take in one's everyday life, outside of the festival. Taking action in one's everyday life is indeed brave, as would be trying to live up to the words and spirit of jesus or buddha (as they have been related to us).

additionally, i would add that attending events or sharing activities with like-minded people is necessary for a lot of us to do, at least every once in awhile, to recharge the batteries, center ourselves, and recommit to the bravery that our activism requires in our everyday lives. it's hard to fight All The Time. Sometimes it's good to be in a space where you don't have to so you can, as the author said, breathe easily for once.

learning to breathe easily even when fighting,
but not there yet,
a fellow activist

To Chris 30.Oct.2001 09:45

Jack

I heard about your action at the Quad from fellow activists here at OSU. I am quite impressed. I would like to get together with You sometime. I am in a newly organized student, anticapitalist group on campus called Wrench. I think you might be interested. OUr meetings are at the Native American Longhouse at 4:30pm on Monday. Hope to see you there-- it sounds like you have some awesome creativity, committment and energy.

bravery 30.Oct.2001 10:00

Barbara

Chris - the purpose of my article was to carry forth the messages of the children who told us that it was our turn to be brave and to love our enemies. The backdrop in which that message was delivered happened to be at a peace festival, which happened to be a perfect place to gather momentum and regroup. Not one of us were "hiding" but coming together to share ideas and energy that will enable us to continue to do our part in abdicated the "new world order".

Taking a stand for peace in itself is an act of courage, however we feel compelled to express it.

ack... 25.Aug.2004 00:32

chris pangle

just googled and found this old comment and i still cannot believe how cowardly this aspect of the left is.