The Question of Peace
Most activists have been forced at some point to question what they are doing and why. This nagging voice asks the question, "Can I enjoy the very things I am fighting for, what will the world look like when I succeed?
There are at least two domains that should be considered, one is the enemy within, and the "Other." The "Other" is less complicated than the first part of this question, so let us look at that one first.
When it comes to fighting against war, fighting against injustices, it would seem that the enemy is easy to recognize. I believe we are in an unjust war or occupation of Iraq and our government should be changed to stop the madness. I believe that we as a nation have gone mad, a major breakdown that has caused millions of innocents to die, from bullets or starvation, dead is dead. So, I fight everyday that I can, protest, write, talk to politicians, nag, shout---whatever it takes to stop this madness. I know that I will not see the changes that I seek, yet I continue. I know that I am doing all that I can for future generations, my children and their children. I want them to know the freedoms that have blessed my life. Sounds noble, or does it? The first part of the question is much more difficult to express, the enemy or violence within me.
I am not a non-violent person; I am a product of growing up in the 50's with all the baggage of a man from Brooklyn New York. One of the first lessons I learned when growing up was not to try to talk your opponent out of hurting you, either fight or take flight-----no talking. This primal lesson has haunted me for most of my life, conflict is handled by violence. I don't mean shooting or beating people up-----I mean as an adult I can destroy people with words or fists. I am against the death penalty, most wars, and want more control over guns. You can see the internal battle going on here, my values do not line up to my conditioning as a child. Today, I revisited Gandhi's life via Kingsley's movie, and read an article about a woman who has been protesting in front of the White House for the last 25 years, makes what I do seem so wimpy. You can read about her on a site that has been set up, http://www.prop1.org/conchita/conchita.htm
This is a woman of patience. Sometimes I think I was on the wrong line when the gift of patience was given out; I have little of this virtue. When I am working on some task I have to work at being patient, how sad is that? There are times I will get on a long line and say relax, you may learn something on this line that you did not know before, but I have to work it, always makes me feel silly. Well, back to my protesting on the Morrison Bridge, in Portland, Oregon. This Friday , the 29th of July, I will hold a sign that says:
I hope to get through to the Thom Hartmann show about 0700 from the bridge and talk about my project to lower our State Flag until our National Guard troops return from this terrible mess in Iraq. We lower our flag to honor those who die; I want to lower the flag for the living. Send a message that we care, that we will fight to make sure they are treated as heroes. All the troops deserve full medical care and any other help to make them whole again. Lower the flag---------send a message!