Today in history: 1952 -- the first British non-violent protest against nuclear weapons took place; ten sat down on the War Office steps.
A handful of passionate protestors gathered at the University of Oregon to "superhero" march to the Eugene Federal Building where the weekly peace vigil is held. The day was chilly but the glow of camaraderie, like a candle flame, was warm and inspiring. The march caught the attention of shoppers and drivers, many of whom smiled or honked their support. One woman, though, who read the sign that read, "I don't want a police state", said that the marchers should "kiss the ground here" because she is "from a country in Europe" (which she refused to reveal) that she claimed "really is a police state". One of the marchers replied that he feared the U.S. could become that way, too. She seemed unconvinced and walked on without further discussion.
A lone bicycle cop shadowed the marchers but did not interact with them at all.
The marchers joined a few more people who were already at the Federal Building with a "Global Justice Not War" banner and other signs. Some drivers were supportive, others were not. One driver shouted to a man holding a "One Planet Indivisible" sign: "How about one nation indivisible? It's one nation!" Though Seventh and Pearl is a busy intersection for traffic, there are not many pedestrians there, especially in colder weather.
A few newcomers attended the march and vigil. "I feel like I have to do something," one of them said.
The apathy that leads to such small numbers for events like this is quite discouraging. Civilians are still dying in high numbers in Afghanistan, and the great number of unexploded bomblets and mines littering the countryside means that -- as in Cambodia up to the present day -- people will continue to be killed for years to come. Why is it that so few people care?
A core group of dedicated Students for Peace are questioning whether or not these marches -- which they have been doing since last Fall -- are effective and are "considering other tactics". [ see VIDEO of earlier march ] They agree that public forms of opposition are important, though. The Justice Not War Coalition will continue the peace vigils every Friday at 4:00 p.m.
There have been some arguments over the effectiveness of demanding peace during wartime; we would posit that we must do something in response to such injustice, and that merely wishing for a better world is not going to get us there. These are times when we must get out of our chairs and info shops and into the streets to actively spread a strong, positive message of love. There's nothing more radical than that.
More peace events are coming up. On Saturday, January 12, there is a peace and justice festival at Wellsprings Friends School in Eugene. And, Peace Festival Two will be taking place in Salem on February 2. These, and other events, will be chances for you to become more involved in making an equitable, just, and peaceful world.