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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

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Women's Day: Conclusion

We find out that an appropriations committee is meeting to consider bush’s horrific budget this afternoon, one hour before we are to be at the presentation of Iraq women to members of congress who are interested in hearing about conditions in Iraq from these women. We want to be there in hot pink and with our banners.

We get to the building that houses the committee meeting room and find out we are standing in an overflow line – and we’re at the end of the line. After waiting there without moving for several minutes, we realize that we will not be able to affect any of the members from the overflow room. We decide to go to our next meeting to get there early, in case there are not enough seats as well.

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is holding this presentation called Women: The Keystone to Iraq’s New Democracy. Congresswoman Johnson began “A World of Women for World Peace” as a response to 9/11 and our presidents rush to war.

No other Congress people showed up nor sent representatives to this enlightening and superb meeting. Again, the women from Iraq spoke eloquently and forcefully, as did the Congresswoman and several people from the audience.

From here we went to yet another celebration – a CodePINK supporter invited us to her home and provided us a great dinner and a chance to hang out together, speak more intimately with the women from Iraq and the other CodePINK women from across the nation.

Celebrating International Women's Day

Several hundred women gather at the park in the bright, warm sun to hear once again the women from Iraq speak to us – and several American women who also speak, including our injured Cindy. Cindy cannot walk with us but will meet us at the White House – she tells us she will not be stopped by this brutality but will continue to exercise her constitutional rights. She says if she gets arrested at the White House, she will only hope that they grab her by her uninjured arm!

We do a ritual, facing each of the four directions. The police presence is limited but obvious. We have mostly always been treated fairly by the Washington D.C. police.

One of the Iraqi women has made a hot pink banner saying ‘end the occupation’ in English and Arabic; another holds a hot pink poster that says ‘peace’ in many languages – except Hebrew.

I meet women from all over the country and a few women for other countries: one woman is from El Salvador; another women is living in Italy; and yet another comes from China. We walk across the street to the Iraqi Embassy.

The women from Iraq call upon the ambassador to come to the gate, where the police line prevents us from entering, and take the our petition with the over 100,000 signatures. After a few moments, someone does come out to talk. When he realizes what we want, he refuses to take the petitions but does wave and welcome us. Hmmmmm – more than what the U.S. Mission folks did!

We continue through D.C., around Dupont Circle, thru Lafayette Park and to the White House. People along the route take the flyers and cards we hand out – for International Women’s Day and for Mother’s Day and for CodePINK. Some bystanders actually join us. I think our numbers swell to close to 1000, maybe.

We arrive at the White House & begin another rally. Women from the U.S. who have lost their children speak; and women from Iraq also speak. We end with an open mike where women – and a couple of girls - speak about how to end this war.

Peace, sam

I am deeply ashamed

We are invited this morning to gather at a quaint, ritzy hotel that I’m sure costs a weeks wages for lots of us – or at least me – to spend the nite. We are being treated by the hotel owner to a plentiful breakfast spread – eggs & meats, fruits and breads, including bagels; teas, juice and coffee.

We are to make a plan for the rest of the day. We have a permit to march from the Iraqi Embassy to the White House.

Several of the women from Iraq are present. They speak once again about conditions in Iraq, as we fill our plates and cups.

We talk about what we can do to end war and occupation.

I talk about the need for a Lysistrata-type action – one that will grab our hearts & move us forcefully toward ending war, once and for all. I speak about Mother’s Day Month as maybe such an action – our plan to follow the voice of Julia Ward Howe and ascend upon D.C. to surround Congress beginning on May 14th, for a month and not let them, literally or figuratively, out until they vote no more war.

Ellie speaks about women drumming around the world for 24 hours; another woman speaks about putting up pictures that show people the real face of war, the graphic horrific pictures of war that were visible daily during Viet Nam; another woman mentions a candle-lighting ceremony with 120,000 candles for the dead in Iraq; yet someone else mentions demonstrating in front of Chevron; and someone else speaks playing of protest music for 24 hours.

Medea talks about her vision of Mother’s Day: 24 hour vigil. Other people talk about adopting sister cities in Iraq, as they’re talking about in Berkeley. And Medea talks again, about adopting hospitals or demonstrating in front of U.S. hospitals and raising funds.

Practically every American woman there thanks the Iraqi women for coming & several ask the Iraqi women what we can do to help them.

I am deeply ashamed – not just of our government, but this morning I am deeply ashamed of ourselves: the handful of American women who have shown up today to celebrate International Women’s Day and to hear what the women from Iraq have to say.

I am deeply ashamed that so many of us keep asking Iraqi women what can we do to help them. I know what we are really saying – what can we do without changing our lives, without risking anything like our jobs, our homes, our relationships; without inconvenience or cost to us.

What can we do to keep our lives going at the level we are enjoying and not feel guilty about what is happening in Iraq?

It is like we have thrown these women in jail cells (if they're lucky) and as we wander around outside the cell, keys in our hands, free and able to do what we want, we peer inside and ask the inmates ‘what can we do to help you all?’ as if we have not put them there and are not keeping them there by our refusal to stop our lives and end this war, this occupation.

One of the Iraq women, the same doctor who initially refused to speak because there were Jews in the room, stands up to speak. She calls our suggestions to end war “trivial” to her in light of the actions needed to end war. She talks about how destroyed her country is, every day; how dangerous it is for her and for all Iraqis – she mentions how dangerous it is for U.S. soldiers as well - as we talk about candle lights and 24 hour vigils.

She wants us to be braver, be stronger, be more determined. She doesn’t use those words – I do. She points out how beautiful our country is; and how beautiful her country used to be. How can we have such a beautiful country here as we destroy another beautiful country?

I am deeply ashamed. We all know our government, our corporations could not engage in this war without our compliance – even and especially the compliance of those who know and understand what is happening but will not do whatever is necessary to end war.

I am deeply ashamed.