Friday, March 23, 2007

Wish I didn't have this reason to be so busy

The week before last, I was busy getting ready for the peace rally and march. Sadly, March 17 was the 4th anniversary of my country's invasion of Iraq. As usual, I arranged to have a meditation vigil during the peace action fair and march, on March 18 here in Portland. As usual, the peace marches around the country were treated as barely a blip in the world of news. And as usual, a few fringe attention-mongers have achieved their goal and stolen the message of the peace-mongers.

Alerted to watch the news by activist friends for a statement from our Republican Senator, Gordon Smith, I saw coverage of this story. A few anonymous demonstrators clad in black burned a flag and a soldier in effigy, and of course the right-wingnuts are ecstatic over this, stoking their hatred of "liberals". The local news said organizers of the peace march were "furious" and refused to give a statement and thus give more energy to the story. I know some of the people who organized the event. I know they might have been distressed, but I highly doubt they were furious. How interesting that an innocent rural college student who'd "never seen such a thing" and was "shocked" put her photos on her facebook blog and then it caused a wildfire among the freepers. How interesting that she got hate email, she who was shocked in the first place. She quoted one in which someone said she was a traitor simply for posting the photos.

How boring the rest of us are. How predictable that there are a few that stage dramatic acts, and how predictable that the opposition gloms onto that as proof that all of us boring peace activists Hate America. And why is that so shocking? These are just symbols. Where is the outrage over stolen votes? Where is the outrage over actual dead soldiers? actual dead Iraqi innocents? stolen civil liberties? I am not proud to be from such an America. You won't find me saying I protest because I love America. I protest because I love people and the country I happen to be born in steps on and kills a whole lot of people. That is nothing to be proud of.

Then I did see what Gordon Smith had to say, and at least he is still breaking from his party and saying Iraq is a mistake, as far as I could tell. He voted to pull out by 2008. Unlike Joe Lieberman. He's not breaking away enough to vote to cut funding, but then neither are the Democrats. As long as they all continue to fund the war, I'll continue to believe they all secretly want the war, and it all has to do with controlling the region for the oil.

I titled this wishing I didn't have this reason to be so busy. It looks like I will be busy for years to come. Of course, I'll be busy for a lifetime, violence and hatred being beginningless and unending the way it is. Thus the meditation vigils. Even while we work for social reform, it won't stick on less we also work on personal reform.

Less visible, but greatly heartening to me, are the activities happening in rural Oregon. This is where many of our soldiers come from. This is where we can measure the pulse of America, more so than in the progressive city of Portland. Soldiers and families of soldiers are coming to town halls and letting it be known they want out of this war. Read about it here. I've met the author, a friendly to the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.

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