mother's day month: for those who can't do it
When I was a younger, I used to wish I could sing like Aretha Franklin or Nina Simone – I so wanted a voice that would move people. Now as an adult, I wish I have the words that will move people….in my country, to end war.
As I travel across the country & speak w/women about Mother’s Day Month, all women respond with sparks flaring into their eyes, hope shining across their faces, & excitement filling their voices. They either immediately jump on board or they say with sorrow I can’t do it, I have to move/work/travel/caretake/school/live; or I can’t afford to do it.
I want to address both of the latter issues.
I’ve written about the ‘can’ issue that often pops up in our activist work – you know, we’ve all said it – on the one hand, we know the horrific, despicable things that are happening in our name; on the other hand, “but what can I do?” we implore with empty palms up, holding regret, helplessness, hopelessness, futility.
Or, as with this action, we say “oh, I can’t do that.”
I believe we have only asked half the question when we ask “what can I do” – the unspoken rest of that question is really “what can I do…. without changing my life or my life-style?” or what can I do … without it costing me too much, like my time, my job, my home, my lover, or even my life.”
Or when we state “I can’t do that….” the other half is “…and maintain my lifestyle, my home, my life.”
I think we all really want to end the war. But even more so, we really want our lives and life-styles to continue as usual.
Which brings me to the other issue: “I can’t afford it”. I believe we in CodePINK should be committed to never saying that again. Spending several days with the women from Iraq last week has reaffirmed this for me: we americans, the vast majority of us who are so very privileged, should never say we can’t afford it.
I think we should say instead “I choose not to spend my money, resources, energy, time in this way.”
We are the richest country in the world; we make more money, have more food, greater homes, more resources, etc., than most of the world – and certainly we have many more choices than the women in Iraq at the very least.
The women in Iraq cannot say I can’t afford not to go to work – they do not have a choice. Or I can’t afford to leave my home – they do not have a choice. Or I can’t afford to stop my life for a month – they have no choice.
Which brings me to Mother’s Day Month:
We often speak of the seeming futility of our anti-war actions: the marches, the petitions, the speak-outs, the demonstrations.
I do not believe any action we take is futile. But I do believe what we’ve been doing is not enough. We need a Lysistrata-type action. We need an action that will have the impact we want, to end war: an action we are committed to NO MATTER WHAT .
Who thinks if 10,000 women show up in D.C. May 14th determined to end war, determined to surround congress (both literally & figuratively) for a month, determined to stay until congress votes no more war (legislation we will lobby for) – who thinks war will not end? Or if 100,000 women show up for the month? Or even 1,000,000 women?
Do you think that will end war?
If you can answer yes to this question, then let us go forward and do it. If you doubt a million or so women surrounding congress for a month will have an impact on the war, then you make another plan & put it out – I will do it.
I do not believe the first question is how can I do it, afford it? I believe the first question is do I want to do this. Once we answer yes, then we will figure out how to do it, as Hillary and others have said – we’ll help each other make it possible. We are supposedly the smartest, most resourceful and resource-filled people in the world – surely we can figure out how to spend a month in D.C. ending war.
Who really wants to give up one month – a whole 30 days – of our lives to end war?
In 10 years, or 100 years, as history looks back upon us American women, are they going to say “in 2006 U.S. women had the opportunity to end war but they were too busy working or moving or taking care of their children to stop their lives for a month to end war?” Or will herstory say, we did the Lysistrata thing and in 2006 100’s of 1000s of women descended upon Congress and stayed there until legislation was adopted to end the war in Iraq.
It’s up to us! In hot pink peace, power, protest, participation, passion, Suzanne “Sam” Joi