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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

Friday, November 04, 2011

Arriving Johnson City, Tennessee

I feel so lucky to witness as much of the beautiful lush fall forests covering these mountains, so vibrant with colors they could be bouquets of perfect flowers. The yellows, caramels, ambers, reds, wine, browns, rust, blacks, greens of fall still permeate the land, altho there is a predominance of browns now.

When I arrive in downtown Johnson City, the road where the occupation is to take place is blocked off by police barricades leading me to ponder the number of folks that have occupies for this small town.

The downtown appears to be small, less trim, much more crowded building-wise than the Virginia towns I stopped in. As I drive around the couple of blocks that are all closed, I realize there is something else happening besides the occupation.

It is first Friday in Johnson City and it looks like every bar is open, spilling over with youth and loud 'music'. I find a park on a street that says closed but someone has moved aside the barriers and I quietly just follow other cars as we all find a place to park.

It is freezing, a wet, heavy cold and very dark now. I search for the street where the occupation is supposed to be, find it but cannot find the tents, just a huge parking lot that has "farmers market" signs in it in front of a long building that appears it might have been an ancient warehouse for a train station at some point.

I see a car parked with signs in the window. I have to wipe the cold condensation off the window the read "Occupy Johnson City" full page flyers that lack the exact location. Hmmmmm

I walk around a little more, peering into closed buildings and crossing old railroad tracks. Finally I remember the posting I read on line mentioned an empty lot behind a building so I start to my search to include the backs of buildings.

Joyfully in a few minutes I spot a few tents around the corner of a building. As I approach, I see a miniature Occupy D.C. with the canopies and personal tents set up around a huge, grassy lot - only this one has a nice little fire going and bodies snuggling around it.

I rescue my truck from the closed street, drive to the encampment, and park alongside the other vehicles there.

I have arrived!

Occupy Roanoke - or another nice christian

Roanoke is another 'old' city in Virginia, with the narrow, 2 lane streets flanked by brick and marble buildings from the early 19th century, with a town square and outdoor market place. It is slightly larger than Harrisonburg and has actual "walk" signs along with traffic lights visible to pedestrians (unlike Harrisonburg...)

I cannot find the folks that are supposed to be standing across from the fountain at the market place (I am a little late) but the first person I ask knows about Occupy Roanoke! but just doesn't know where to find them.

I find a coffee shop whose proprietor also knows of Occupy Roanoke, gets a strange look on his face, and tells me to check out the fella who owns the bike shop about 3 blocks away.

I enter the bike shop and ask if he knows about Occupy Roanoke. I am addressing a very small, short, trim white male maybe in his 40's who looks at me askance, wanting to know who wants to know.

I introduce myself and he grabs me in a bearlet hug, so happy he is to see me. He tells me how he has been with Occupy Roanoke from the beginning and hints at his overload of responsibilities. I ask where folks are and he's not sure who else is around.

He tells me people will show up for the afternoon protest at 4. He hesitates and adds "or maybe 4:30". Maybe 5, he mutters, as if he's lost touch with them. He hops on his bike and rides the 3 blocks to the site to unlock the portajohns.

No one is encamping, he's not encouraging it as the police have been very cooperative and he doesn't think it is the time to rock the boat. He is grateful for the police lack of interference.

I have already been sunnily greeted by one such tall, white, male smiling uniformed member on my walk over to the bike store so I can attest to the cooperative police presence here in Roanoke.

I head to the protest site myself. It is at the edge of the town square park, that is bordered by busy (for Roanoke I'm sure) 2 and 4 lane streets, across from the freeway entrances, and facing a huge hospital. I retrieve my truck from it's downtown prime location and move it into the hospital parking lot, one slot from the freeway entrance, which is taken by a dumb hummer.

No one shows up for this Friday evening protest but me! The bike guy tells me that about 50 people will show up for the G.A. tomorrow, Saturday. He has decided (with the G.A. consensus I assume) to hold it only once a week because they want to be "inclusive" and many folks come from miles away, having a hard enough time to make it once a week.

I am dying to attend this G.A. but I must continue. I am sure I've worn out my welcome at two of the three coffee shops in town, as I get on line, blog, and research my next steps. Johnson City is starting their occupation TONITE! So I REALLY want to be there for that exciting step!

Returning to my truck, I find the hummer fella has left a little baptist card on my windshield demanding I repent. He has written with bold black lines, repeatedly thickened and underscored "F.U." across the scripture on the back of the little card.

Sigh, another nice christian!

On the glorification of the cannon fodder... i.e. veterans day

We need to end glorification of the military, including the fear of 'appearing' anti-vet. Veterans are not gods but human beings who have been used as instruments of war and cannon fodder. Veterans Day, in our military industrial complex's propaganda campaign to make wars palatable, co-opted Armistice Day, which was the recognition of the cessation of war, not the glorification of the instruments of war.

Let us reclaim Veterans Day as Armistice Day and vow to END ALL WARS NOW!

On violence....

There's much talk about "violence" of protesters, even though 15,000 people demonstrated peacefully for over 18 hours on the 2nd.

Here is my beginning post:

I think we need a huge critical thinking discussion about violence and what it is. It seems to me that, like everything else in our society, the meanings of words – including “violence” are determined by how much they support the existing paradigms.

For example, we accept as “normal” and not “violence” men (mostly) dressing in black steel-toed, hard heeled boots that can be lethal weapons, dangling lethal nitesticks from their belts, donning armored breast plates, slinging high-powered automatic lethal weapons from their hips, wearing thick black leather gloves that can also be used as weapons, let alone all the other a sundry of weapons – against unarmed and unarmored human beings.

We accept as “normal” and not “violence” that these men are set up to repress, control, arrest, and torture black, brown & indigenous & poor communities, in their quest to assure those that “have” are protected from those that “have not”.

If we REALLY want to confront violence, we need to be chanting “DISARM, DISARM” whenever a police officer arrives; we need to refuse to negotiate anything else until we have negotiated their removal of these violent weapons while meeting with unarmed people. We need to refuse to participate in this violence against our communities so robbed of even the privilege of escaping police brutality and the racist prison industrial complex.

Another example, we accept as “normal” and not “violence” the “austerity measures” that caused the closure of the Traveler’s Aide building; the drones bombing at least 6 countries that we know about; our military occupying bases in over 135 countries; the “wars” we’ve declared against over 25 countries since the end of WWII – all but one being countries filled with people of color.

We also tend to not only accept the men who have been trained to and have most likely committed the greatest act of violence, the taking of another human being’s life, but hold them up under the hubris of “supporting our troops” and honoring our veterans, those that have chosen to “serve” the private interests of our corporations by being will fodder of and engaging in warfare.

I, like Becky, would most likely probably never take a baseball bat to a window but not because I honor and value “property”, private or otherwise – I do NOT honor property and think we need to do away with the entire concept.

I would however, never condone or support the harming of a human being, hopefully no matter what he has done to me or my family or my loved ones.

I think the biggest, overriding discussion is what are “appropriate” responses to this fucked up, crazy, most horrendous, horrific, appalling society/country we exist in and participate in by the mere fact of our existence?

What are “appropriate” responses to the dire violence of drone warfare? And all warfare? Racism? Sexism? Misogyny? White Supremacy? Patriarchy? Classism? And all that???

What are the “appropriate” responses to the atrocious attack on our Mother Earth and all life on this planet?

What are the “appropriate” responses to babies starving to death every 7 seconds in our world while we of this country consume up to 60% of the world’s resources?

What are “appropriate” responses to this upside down crazy country we live in?

Maybe we can make agreements that everyone thinks carefully about the action she or he is choosing to engage in – which I think is understood but maybe needs to be said – & we can trust that agreement.

Maybe we can make agreements that we critically challenge each other, sharpen & improve our actions. And we trust those agreements.

Maybe we can make the agreement that we honor diversity and trust that everyone will not support each and every action but, after critical thinking and discussion, will step out of the way of the actions others decide to do.

Maybe we can make the agreement that if the action is one that is not acceptable by consensus of the entire group, that the people who are doing the action will remove themselves from physical proximity of the group to do their action to make it clear that it is their action and not the entire groups action.

Stretching ourselves too thin...

Occupy Harrisonburg Virginia

I arrive in the historical downtown part of Harrisonburg, VA just as light is filtering slowly thru a thick, heavy slate grey cloud cover. It feels to be 20 degrees outside and fall colors are still brilliant.

As I park in an empty lot that says "Farmers Market", a couple young white women jump out of their cars, parking also. I ask them about Occupy Harrisonburg and they haven’t heard of that or of Occupy Wall Street. Now they have, and now they know I think it is THEIR time to be out in the street.

I ask the few people I come across as I head toward the “visitor center” sign. No one knows what I’m talking about but some have watched Occupy Wall Street on the TV.

At the visitor center, the middle-aged white woman tries valiantly to find the protest, looking in the paper, resorting to the internet, and finally making phone calls. She ascertains the location – at the courthouse square under the gazebo that seems to be built on top of a spring.

I head there in the icy cold, glad I put on my down jacket before leaving the truck. No one is occupying. The 2 city workers picking up trash think the county worker walking around with xmas pics in her mittened hands, should know, but she doesn’t and I’m referred back to the visitor center.

So the lesson might be that one job local occupies can do is a better job informing the public about what we are all doing!

I head to the local coffee shop: one is not open, the other doesn’t serve organic coffee. So it’s off to the local food co-op!

The workers here have heard of the occupation but rarely participate, indicating with sweeping arms the huge job and long, sporadic hours they work.  One middle aged white womon would consider herself lucky if she gets out of the coop in time to make the 6:00 G.A.

She is the same womon who mutters regretfully: “We are stretching ourselves too thin” when I mention we are presently bombing 6 nations in the world.

Welcome to Virginia!

I am disappointed it is still very dark when I leave the rest stop, so I'm driving this scenic route with only my vague memories of her beauty, shrouded by pre-dawn chill and mist.

And a huge tractor-trailer attempting (unsuccessfully) to run me off the road! At first, I see him veering swiftly into my lane so I lay on the horn. He has no intention of swerving back into his lane but continues to charge into the slow lane where I am chugging along.

Fortunately, for both of us, there is a very wide shoulder and I react very quickly, especially for someone who has been lost in memories. I immediately swerve myself and slow down, allowing him to charge in front of me.

I recover enough to whip out my cell phone with camera and begin to chase him up the hill. He begins darting in and out of traffic preventing me from getting behind him, also gaining speed, until he zooms onto another freeway.

I have taken a few pics of his license that maybe will come out. Welcome to Virginia! I seem to also have these memories stored along with the rolling wooded hills!

Occupy to Occupy: Today's schedule

Today, I am intending to go to Occupy Harrisonburg, Occupy Roanoke, Occupy Blacksburg - all western Virginia occupations.

Then I will pass thru to Tennessee and try to go to Occupy Johnson City, Occupy Knoxville, Occupy Nashville, Occupy Clarksville, Occupy Murfreesboro, Occupy Chattanooga before heading to Atlanta!