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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

Sunday, October 16, 2005

doing grandma b proud!!!

Here I am in Iowa – and the REST STOPS have wireless internet connect! And it’s FREE! And I even figured out how to connect! My Grandma B (my dad’s mom) would be soooooo proud! (see previous entries re:iowa-ians & their rest stops!) Once again, Iowa is on the cutting edge!

Packing up my computer, heading to my truck I notice an older white woman, long blond hair, dull blue eyes, striding toward me. She demands to know if this is my truck & did I paint it. I claimed responsibility for the truck, the paint job, the words.

She told me “my son went to Iraq & died so you could have the right to paint these words on your truck.” I told her how sorry I was that her son was killed. Then I told her how sorry I was that her son was killed because we have a president who lied to him, to her, to all of us. I told her that her son did not die so I could have the right to paint my truck but he died because we have a president who lies.

She vehemently disagreed with me. I asked her if she knew about Gold Star Families for Peace, Cindy Sheehan. She dismissed all that with a casual wave of her hand, lumping it all together with her daughter who is in D.C. & has tried to talk to her too. But we’re all wrong, she insisted – I’m free to paint this on my truck & to drive freely around this country – not how it would be in Iraq.

I told her how free I am – how I’m subjected to name-calling at best, threats, slashed tires, truckers who try to run me off the road, white men who make obscene gestures & follow me around – is this what she means by freedom?

I tell her I am free to paint this on my truck because many, many, many brave people – mostly black & brown, & lots of white women and several white men – have fought for our rights & continue to fight.

She pulled the founding fathers card – this country was built on the search for freedom – I said no, this country was built on the genocide of the original people who lived here.

She told me I didn’t have to tell her about that – she was Cherokee – I step closer to her blond self & look deep into those washed-out blue eyes and tell her as quietly as I can “then you know the truth”.

She turns on her heel & stalks off toward the semi she’s driving.

Welcome to Iowa.

leaving nebraska

i make sure i go to wild oats before i leave omaha - what a growing city! i unsuccessfully try to connect to the internet after i go shopping. a middle-aged white man approaches me swiftly across the parking lot. 'i LOVE your truck' he gushes, telling me how much inspiration it has given him to see me & the truck. another young white dyke comes out the store to tell me that omaha has already voted to impeach bush! she explains she's a playwrite and last year wrote a play putting bush on trial - a partication play where the audience is the jury. apparently the play ran several weeks and each verdict was consistent: bush was impeached!

i drive by the library to try to get on-line - it is closed. as i proceed slowly past, several homeless men come running thru the park facing the library, waving their arms, shouting excitedly & leaping with fists extended into the air!!! enthusiastic peace symbols proceed their rush across the street. i stop to talk with 3 or 4 of the guys, a racially mixed group. they tell me sad stories of viet nam vets & now iraq war vets homeless, hungry, without medical & especially psychiatric help. they disparage bush & cheney, they mention haliburton & those kellog & root people. i'm amazed at how informed these raggedly looking men are. they even mention the national guard & new orleans...

i mull over this experience in nebraska - my last trip, i ran into many miitary families still supporting bush - now they are either silent or absent. yeah! on to iowa & the midwest! peace, sam

oh shut up

all the highways thru the west & midwest seem to be named after wars & the men who fight them: the veterans highway, the purple heart highway, the armed forces highway; and the rest stops also - some honoring of men who are willing to kill - and to die. the militarization of our society is all around us. what if soldiers were not heroes? i started a poem with that focus - of course, my lap top died and so did my writings - that was the last trip.

nebraska is overwhelmingly pro-peace. i do not get one fuck you. i do interact with a middle-aged white woman who is studying the 'codepink:women for peace' side of my truck. i observe her from a distance - i'm jogging around the rest stop, trying to re-vitalize my muscles. she is taking so long reading that simplest side of my truck, i'm again thinking she's pro-peace. she's still there after i've jogged for 20 minutes, moving slowly down the side of the truck. i can't imagine what she's thinking so i approach her, a little breathlessly, and say brightly, 'hi!'. she turns to me & declares 'i love bush'. 'oh,' i say as friendly as i can, 'so you're one of the 36% of americans who still approve of the president. i'm glad to meet you. i'm wondering why you still love bush?' she glares at me & hurries up the hill toward the bathrooms, tossing over her shoulder a nasty 'oh just SHUT-UP'.

i'm not proud that i instantly yelled after her 'oh, that's why you still love the president - neither one of you can talk.' knee jerk reaction - i drove away. peace, sam

love it or leave it

it is such a beautiful morning in wyoming i can't keep driving without stopping at one of my favorite wyoming rest stops - it has a path straight up the side of the mountain - great for cardiovascular stimulation & for views of stunning wyoming! only one other person is at the stop when i arrive. i climb up & down the hill for 20 minutes, as the parking lot starts slowly filling up. a woman spreads out beautiful silver & torquise jewelry she's made to sell. a young man is talking into his cellphone as he paces up and down; a white family pulls in next to my truck & a white woman stands, hands on hips, reading the imprision bush side of my truck.

i talk with the womon selling jewelry - she tells me times are so hard now, since the hurricane. no one hardly stops to buy jewelry. i ask her if she thinks the war in iraq has anything to do with it. she peers intently at me & says her people have never supported this war or any war the white men of this country have thrown us into. she says she doesn't personally know one individual who is in favor of bush or this war. she says folks are struggling so terribly hard to survive, worse then she can ever remember. she is probably in her 70's altho she looks much younger.

the white womon is still reading my truck so i hurry over to talk with her. as i approach, she stops reading & turns to glare at me. she doesn't bother to ask if this is my truck, but hisses 'you're a disgrace to our country'. i'm startled - i had assumed her lengthy appraisal of my truck indicated support. i guess she wanted to read all the bumper stickers that other folks had attached to that side of the truck - the 'christians for bush', etc. (i save the last few inches beneath my grandmother's words for people to place the bumper stickers they want me to have - ones that are on the same page of course).

i respond 'how am i a disgrace to my country'. 'this isn't your country' she's really angry now. 'love it or leave it' she spits. hmmmmm i don't believe i've heard these words since the official bombing began march 03, but today visions of viet nam protests begin reeling thru my brain. 'go live in another country, go live in iraq' she continues as her young daughter approaches our vehicles. i glance at the young woman as her mother continues 'you don't deserve to live her, you're a communist, you're evil'. i tune out the rest as i turn to the young woman, assessing her age to be fightin' fodder age and ask her 'do you see things the same way?'

she apologizes & says, to my horror, 'yes i do, i agree with my mother.' i ask her how many of her friends are in danger of being recruited or are already in danger of loosing their lives, their limbs. she nods her head slowly & says 'not yet but they are willing to fight for our country.'

the mother's tirade continues, louder, angrier, if that's possible. i want to point out to her that i love my country enuf to stop my life to work toward ending this war & dedicating our resources to taking care of us, not making haliburton rich. my words stick in my throat as i look at her contorted face. suddenly her mother appears, mirroring a face even more full of hate, if that's possible. she takes over for her daughter, as the grand-daughter steps back. this matriarch actually sticks her tongue out at me as she slides into the back seat. i turn to her granddaughter & beg her to protect herself & tell her friends not to go. i tell her she is the one who is in grave danger, she & her buddies. the grandmother has her ugliest face plastered against the window - i have to laugh & ask her if i can take her picture. she turns her head as if she doesn't hear.

an 18 wheeler drives slowly by, the driver blowing his horn - i'm afraid to look in case he's going to give me the finger - he doesn't - in fact he's waving and smiling and making a triumphant fist! the 3 generational white family is not paying attention - they load into the car & take off.

i smile & wave at them as if i've enjoyed our interaction. peace, sam