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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

Thursday, October 26, 2006

WITS 655,000 fathom it

The police have been called, as we stand in front of the republican headquarters in Stockton. We are on the public sidewalk, shoes spaced carefully 3 feet apart, tags reading names, ages, places of death laying forlornly on the laces. Pedestrian traffic is non-existent but the traffic light forces an abundance of cars to stop next to our banner & allows us to give out flyers or at the very least, urge folks to vote for peace.

Many give us the peace sign or just smile & wave. A handful twist their usually white, often male faces into some ugly rage & scream out their large truck or suv windows. It is the same every where.

The police have to bluster, caution us to not block the side walk, act like they are magnanimous in their decision to allow us to be there. They take our assurances as they speed off on their motorcycles.

Private security is another matter. Close to 100 minutes after we’ve been there, a little macho of a white male comes over to order me to move my truck. The other women look expectant – I negotiate.

Come look at these shoes. Come think about what 655,000 human lives mean. Come see the names of the dead. Come read over half of the dead are women and children.

He doesn’t come any closer but we compromise. He will allow the truck to stay parked there for 15 more minutes. He glances over his shoulder towards the republicans. He blusters about hurrying as he scurries away.

We continue our action. 20 minutes later the city police arrive, a young brown-skinned man with curious eyes. He approaches me.

Come look at these shoes. Come think about what 655,000 human lives mean. Come see the names of the dead. Come read over half of the dead are women and children.

He comes. He considers. He hears me say we are packing it up anyway. He parks his cruiser several parking spaces away, catty-corner, so he can eye the truck while eyeing our work.

WITS - to be continued

Sureya has told us her nephew has been murdered, the idyllic fountain sprinkling sounds of bubbling water and birds chirping interspersed with her words. She recounts the terror of his mother, calling Sureya desperate for money to give the kidnappers who hold her son for ransom.

Half Arab, half Kurd, she talks of how they wrapped his pray shawl around his head, stuffed his Koran between his teeth, beat and tortured him before cutting off his head and setting his taxi on fire. All the while his mother frantically raising the money to shove into grasping hands in exchange for his release.

She spoke of the two young girls, babies really, left without a father. The wife. The siblings. The auntie. He was a taxi driver born of a father from one side of this manufactured civil war; a mother from the other. She talked about the violence we are doing to each other, that we have crossed over into something so vile, so horrific, so unimaginable – we are stunned, horrified, numbed. And determined to end this violence.

off to war he goes - to be continued

Walk In Their Shoes WITS went to Stockton today, to the pretty park plaza adjacent to the county courthouse. The shoes, placed three feet or so apart, around the circumference of the fountain, made a jarring contrast to the beauty & tranquility of the place. Although the plaza was pretty busy for a sleepy, little town in the middle of the valley, few folks ventured over to see the shoes and read the names, most hanging back almost shyly to observe solemnly.

Except for one pale, slender white woman, about my age, who was drawn to approach us. She knew we were against the war and she wanted bitterly to warn us about mistreating returning soldiers – her son could be among that category one day.

As the other women tried to reassure her retreating back that we were not there to bash the soldiers, I scurried after her, reaching out. I told her I was so sorry her son was there & that we were working our damnedest to get him and all the other young people back asap.

She turned, eyeing me as warily as a coyote I stumbled upon last fall. I asked her if she realized there has not been one documented case of a soldier having been spit on by anti-war demonstrators. She adamently said she knew plenty – until I asked her for names. She couldn’t think of one – and then she thought maybe the guy that worked in her building was one. I asked her to have him call me.

I went on to ask her if she’s seen “Sir NO Sir” yet, to which she replied no. I told her about how that Vietnam vet traveled the country to try to find one veteran that was spit on. He came up empty!

She told me that once someone makes a decision to go into the army, we no longer have the right to say anything to them – they’ve made a decision that is right for them. My heart went out to this mother who couldn’t find a way to keep her son from joining the military. I’ve heard this desperate reasoning before – the abdicating responsibility in the horror of another’s decisions.

I told her as a mother, a woman, an adult who loves & cares for my country & fellow humans, that I DO have not only the right but the responsibility to express my opinion. I said if her son (or brother or husband or anyone) decided it was a good idea to head to the train tracks to jump on the next passing train, was I just going to wave them on? No way. I would tell them what I think.

I told her expressing my differing opinion didn’t mean controlling anyone’s life nor disrespecting them as a human being – it meant expressing my opinion and maybe disrespecting their decision. I sure as hell couldn’t make anyone do anything unfortunately in this case.

Her belligerence and anger slowly morphed into her desperation and isolation over her son and his decision to give his life defending our country. She struggled with her pride, her fear, her losing control over this joyous little life she brought into this world only to have him go off to war.

Her eyes filled, her face anguished, as she reveal he had made bad choices when he was in high school, limiting his future, sending him down that dangerous path predestined to end in jail or war.

I told her about the GI rights hotline. I told her about MFSO. I urged her to reach out and get support for herself. I left her with my determination to end this war and bring her son home now.

agitator no matter what - in progress

Outside agitator

We mustn’t be viewed as such. Or so a fellow cp’er cautions me.

Outside, inside, upside down and over side underside agitator – you name the side – it doesn’t matter. I’m a fuckin’ agitator.

Again reacting to the right-wing media, the right-wing mentality. Trying to take something that should be precious and positive and turn it against us. Trying to create a label, denigrate and demoralize that label, and then attach it to our skins.

And then we accept not the label for the denigration and demoralization and spend our precious energy distancing ourselves from what we ought to claim with pride, with defiance, with extreme satisfaction.

Yes god damn it, I’m an agitator, inside, outside, over side under side every side an agitator.