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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

woah - arkansas white boys & bio-diesel - to be cont'

Driving into Arkansas, I had to leave the main highway and travel about 40 miles north to find biodiesel - I'm really thrilled (leaving superhighways are always a thrill~....), I've been able to get bio-diesel in Atlanta and now arkansas - my next stop will be albuquerque, new mexico. Rural arkansas is filled with shanties and shacks more or less falling down surrounded by scraps of iron & barely discernable washing machines and lots of undiscernable junque, along side petite, perfect ranch and brick homes with manicured lawns and new swing sets. Fast food resteraunts compete w/gas stations, pawn & gun shops for frontage at the rare corner w/a traffic signal.
When I found the company that supposedly had bio-diesel, they sat off the road several feet from & off to the right of the driveway I was turning into across a lane of on-coming traffic. Before I even crossed the lane, several youngish white males came pouring out the front glass doors, looking a little stunned but full of disbelief, kinda like i imagine those in nite of the dead movies would appear to be (if i'd ever seen such a movie) - and they only saw one side of my truck from a distance. As I pulled into the space in front of the glass mirrored door they all were pouring out of, they were saying to themselves 'will ya take a look at this?' and "bob's gotta see this" or "jim's gotta see this". hmmmm. I couldn't wait. I hopped down & asked if they were the fellows selling biodiesel fuel. They kinda scratched their heads & said i'd have to ask bob or jim. Great. They kept making noncommittal grunts and exclamations and calling for more workers to file out, which they did - all white males. okay. They stood several feet from the side of the truck & me - I told them they really needed to see the back of the truck as well and en mass they gaited over there.
Their voices silenced while reading but they constantly shuffled in the dirt, skipping around each other, as if they had to stay in motion. One of the younger ones broke the silence, reaching up and doing a stacatto tap on the attack on "women's rights" and said "this is it, this explains everything." and they all threw knowing glances at me. 2008, Hillary Clinton. Yeah. Then she'll bomb us and that'll be the end of our country. When I asked how come they're afraid of Hillary Clinton, no one spoke immediately but their group silence was broken with continuous mutterings & nonsensical exclamations.
One of the guys, billie his nametag read, toothless, kinda greyish-smoker's white, middle-aged, skinny with longish mousey brown hair billie informed me that I was now in bush country. I told him that was too bad for a state that was Clinton & Gore country and asked him who he voted for. He told me bush, hell yes, he supported the president cause of all those iraqi's trying to come over here & kill us again & this prez can take care of the whole middle east, all them that's attacking us.
Drearily I asked him if he was aware of the facts of 9/11 and we had that whole conversation. Billie didn't believe me - and he HATES the u.n. okay. So then I asked him if we can agree on the history of iraq, the u.s. & hussein, at least since the 1980's leading up to this war. He said sure. So we had that conversation: rumsfield, hussein, weapons of mass destruction, the kurds, iran - then bush senior, kuwait, hussein's baby daughter killed, embargo, bombing, 9/11, and - do not forget - the 2nd largest oil reserve left in the world. Bille listened.
Billie began by informing me that he was NOT an informed voter. go figure. What a familiar mantra - bush supporters claiming they're not informed - this can no longer be an excuse folks & we've got 4 years to make sure ALL voters are informed - whether they want to be or not!
I get kinda incredulous when people who have voted ignorantly admit freely they are not informed. Then Billie wanted to claim liberal was a dirty word - because we just want to give things away to people instead of making them work. I said, Billie, there is not one 'rich' country in the world that does not provide basic health care for it's citizens, except us. I said, Billie, over 22% of our children live in poverty in this country; 8% in canada, 6% in japan. Billie, I said, you are talking about people just like you and me. Then I couldn't resist. I said Billie, I'm sure you haven't fixed your teeth because you've been squandering your thousands of dollars on lavish riches. Son, if you had voted for Kerry, this time next year, you'd have health care insurance and your teeth fixed.
Billie tried to say, yeah that's why canada is broke, providing health care and above poverty-line living for her children. I had to gawf as politely as I could - do you know how broke we are? The dollar has been steadily dropping around the world, AND in canada. Billie, would you rather be broke because you've supported the killing and occupation of iraq in order for the bush oil cartel to make trillions; or would you rather be broke because you've provided health care for all your citizens?
Billie was thinking! "I just listen to rush limbaugh and to bill o'reilly" he begins to explain his limits to me. I querry "is that ALL you listen to?? "Yes, that's all I NEED to listen to!" "Oh, no Billie - you need to listen to me. Why do you listen to 2 very narrow-minded, rich white men who present the same limited perspective on our country & world? I listen to Rush and Bob/bill too (gag gag) AND I listen to national public radio, to cnn, to air america, and I read the papers, and search on the internet. You are totalling limiting yourself and cutting yourself off from a balanced view of everything. And of ever discovering the truth. Why are you doing that?"
Billie admits he hasn't had conversations with liberals or democrats. But he scoffs at the idea of not drilling in alaska to save caribou - he says caribou like they are the pieces of broken cement scattered around the huge parking lot we're in. I'm incredulous. I ask him is he really willing to drill in the oldest, most pristine (i.e. undestroyed by white men's greed) piece of land we have left in our country, just so he can have a few more years of guzzling gas?
He asks me if they can't make a bio-diesel for gas engines. He goes on to say that if Kerry would do that he'd vote for him.
Billie, Billie, Billie - i'm groaning at this point. You missed your chance this time. Kerry DID promise to develop alternative fuels for you - the candidate you supported, bush, has cut funding to the alternative fuel program - because his cartel doesn't have an economic stake in hydrogen cells as they do in oil.
Billie has a little more color in his cheeks now. He says a squeaky "really". I tell him, it is not too late to vote on the issues. I told him he voted on emotional macho drek. He can still become informed and stay informed and vote informed.
Another young white man who has been also listening to our conversatoin told me he voted for Kerry but this place was totally bush - I said, it's not, because he is there and there's probably others too. I asked him kinda jokingly if they were going to do anything dicey to my truck or the fuel because, after all, they're the party that are willing to kill for what they want - he smiled and said they just want my money, they don't care what I have written on my truck!
Caribou. Billie needs a lesson on caribou, to begin with.

thru the deep south

Last nite, before i left, i went to whole foods to stock up on healthy supplies. While i was walking around the store, several atlantans expressed their extreme sadness, despair, and anger. We talked about how we were going to prevail even so - how eventually good always does prevail. an older white womon approached me & asked if that was my truck in the parking lot - i still have on my 'pink slip bush' t-shirt. i thought i would not have to wear it after the 2nd. she was so happy to see codepink in georgia, she asked me to come to athens, where she lives. while we were talking, another womon was listening in. she wanted to know about codepink also. she works with young wimmin and wants to help get them involved in social actions. yet another man with beautiful long beaded braids spoke w/me about coalition-building, a new political party that must come forth, about taking back from the religious right - of all religions, not just christian but jew and muslims alike.
in the parking lot, a young white womon drove her car to the side of my truck where i was standing. thru her tears, she was trying to thank me. we wept together as she told me how hard she worked to defeat this president, how sure she was of his imminent defeat, how she knew that they stole the election and how confused she was about where to go now.
this is the inspiration i leave georgia with as i head out thru alabama, mississippi, tennesee, and arkansas.
I do not leave georgia this a.m. until a little after 5:00a.m. by the time i reach alabama in about an hour, it is still 5 something a.m. - I've gained an hour! It is almost light - i receive 4 yeahs, 3 head shakes no, and 2 fuck yous.
I go to my favorite walmart on route 78 north heading from birmingham to memphis. I park in a prime location - it is full of shoppers even tho it's only about 8:00a.m. - use the bathroom, and then return to my truck to change the numbers of soldiers who've died. It was 1127, now it is 1133 and w/the offensive on falluja, who knows how many more human beings will lose their lives in the next couple of days. I've listened to npr all morning & I'm sick.
As I paint, a womon pulls over next to me and tells me she saw me earlier on the highway & she's so glad to meet me. We talk about the election, of course. Evelyn tells me how glad & proud she is the African American vote went to Kerry. And she tells me about a neighbor of hers who didn't vote because he just moved here (to Birmingham), tried to vote, but they told him he had to go to a poll that was over 2 hours away. Before she leaves, Evelyn re-reads the entire truck, takes some codepink info, and declares that she is going to paint "bring our troops home" on the back of her truck too! She's the 4th person who has told me they are going to paint their vehicle also! yeah!!!!
As I'm painting, I see out the corner of my eye a walmart employee approaching. She asked me if I was intending to shop at walmart. I told her I already have taken care of my business at walmart (i peed & pooped). She told me the managers didn't really like my truck parked in the lot - I interrupted and told her I'm sure they support our democracy. She nodded as she explained they just didn't like political messages. I asked her if she was asked to also tell all the folks w/'bush/cheney bumper stickers, and '4 more years', etc. on their vehicles to leave? She looked just the slightest bit sheepish & then explained she was just doing what she was told to do. I asked her if she thought that was part of her job description. She said she just didn't want to lose her job so she did whatever she was told to do.
I wondered outloud how many times little people have done the dirty work against other little people for the big people. I said to her, nodding conspiratorily, "big people HATE to get their hands dirty, especially when they can find little people to do it for them."
I told her but she appeared to be an intelligent and compassionate human being and thanked her for delivering the message from her superiors. I asked her to let them I'm happy to discuss the constitution & our bill of rights with them and that I'd be leaving as soon as I finished painting the numbers of soldiers that had been killed in Iraq on my truck. She left silently. They never came out to speak with me.
Driving thru mississippi takes only about an hour or so - only one person responded positively to my truck - everyone else was silent. Even at the rest stop, I couldn't get any southerners to talk with me about the election.
But in Memphis, 4 cars responded positively, one white male gave me the finger and then made some weird jerking motion w/his hand & arm. go figure.
Off to find biodiesel - YEAH!!!! a little north of memphis in arkansas, a fellow sells b-100, which is straight bio-diesel! peace, sam