Let there be peace somewhere, somehow, maybe . . . or not . . . whatever

September 24, 2007 by barbara

barbara writes

I trotted my ample butt to a peace rally yesterday. A peace rally in Minnesota, the former heart of blueness. You know – the only state that went for the utterly capable Walter Mondale over Ronald “Bedtime for Bonzo” Reagan.

The fantasy: As you might expect in Minnesota, there were thousands of people at the rally. Police directed traffic at all the nearby intersections. The grassy commons spreading out from the Capitol steps toward the Cathedral on the hill was packed clear to the street and beyond. Hundreds of signs rose high in the hands of orderly but visibly fed-up individuals.

The governor was there. Our congressional reps and senators were there. Clergy from every denomination. Young people – children, high schoolers, college students in vast numbers. The energy was palpable. Lots of music. Current stuff that I don’t know, but it was perfect for the day. We had gathered to say, “Enough! No more occupation! Bring our people home alive and whole!” You probably read about the rally on the front page of the Star Tribune today. Above the fold.

Okay. Enough. Read what really happened.

Just so you know? Almost all of what you just read was pure fabrication.

I did go to the rally. That much is true. David and friend Margaret came, too. So we were three among the few hundred who bothered to show up. Susan was there somewhere, too, and maybe she had a more positive view of the rally than I do.

For starters, it seems the rally planners didn’t pay much attention to pro football schedules. Even that of our local boys who rarely show up for their own games. And now that Minnesotans can subscribe to a cable station that enables viewing of something like 14 games every day, well, world peace is up against some stiff competition.

Being somewhat anal about punctuality, we got there early. Didn’t want to miss a minute of it. And then we just kinda stood around, conspicuously suburban in a largely metro group. Our gray hair was the only common ground. Not many young people in the group.

It never achieved the status of crowd, really. A few hundred. That's what the Strib said, being generous. And they did a nice article, inside the B section, likely led to cover the event by the media-savvy organizations that put it together. Good work.

There was the requisite guitar player who tried valiantly to woo us into singing along with some retro tunes. Since I didn’t do protests at an age-appropriate time of my life, I don’t know those songs well enough to join in.

There were speakers. Becky Lourey is always a powerful spokesperson for peace. She’s earned her stripes, both as a former state senator and as a mother whose son perished in Iraq. She’s a petite powerhouse. There were other speakers as well. Passionate voices of people who’ve served in Iraq or whose kin are there now. Thread through all of it: Bring them home now. Voices cracking with emotion.

There were local glitterati in the group. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. Al Franken. Steve Kelley (who absolutely should be governor of Minnesota right this very minute but sustained a Hatch-et job). Others whose names I can’t remember or never heard and at the moment, don't much care about. It was very hot and windy, and the sound system didn’t always allow for hearing what the speakers were saying.

When the last speaker finished, we left. It had been a sobering event, reminiscent of a long-ago time. Very retro. But more sobering than content was the surfeit of citizens. Where was everyone?

Full disclosure: I was MIA in the 60s when many of my peers were actively protesting the Vietnam War. My peacemaking endeavors were limited to working with my nice church-colleagues in the 70s, doing a little writing and staffing booths at non-profit gatherings.

That said, I say again, “Where was everyone?”

I am flummoxed by the level of apparent apathy amongst Dems, liberals, progressives, whatever the heck we’re calling ourselves these days.

We say we are outraged. We say we’ve had enough. Here was an opportunity to illustrate that in a very public way. Where was everyone? Far as I know, the Bush Republicans didn’t even bother to show up for a counter-rally.

Our elected officials are apparently impotent. We elected them with some high expectations that they’d move us toward getting out of the hell-hole that is Iraq. That they’d guide this nation away from wars, not into more of them. Wars that enrich the Blackwaters and Halliburtons and Bushes and Cheneys and other BushCo cronies while impoverishing the United States treasury and slaughtering our soldiers. Oh, and a few hundred thousand Iraqis as well, but that’s just collateral damage.

Where was everyone? Why are we not speaking out together, demanding to be heard? Why are people huddled in air-conditioned houses, watching NASCAR races or the pathetic Vikings when they could be gathering together to demand that we be heard?

Is it apathy or hopelessness? Either way, we’re screwed. Because until We, the People show up and speak out, nothing will change.

I should have left that rally buoyed up by the collective voices. I needed that. We all did. And while I can’t speak for the others, I can say that my own sense of hopelessness ramped up another notch. Does anyone really give a damn? I wonder. I really do.

What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority. ~ Molly Ivins

(H/T LeftyMN for quote)

Posted in

Comments

Poet (not verified) | September 24, 2007 - 4:47pm

You have placed the fault for the current mideast debacles of the United States exactly where it belongs–on the
“American People” as Nancy and Harry like to intone.

All of us who must have our fast foods, plastics, mechanized McAgriculture, and the “happy motoring” of our commuter culture of shopping malls and suburban sprawl are responsible for the necessity of this mess in Iraq (soon to be appearing in Iran and maybe even Syria).

For those of us who damn the sneering Cheney, let’s prove our contempt by:

buying less gasoline, propane, and other petroleum products.

driving fewer miles,

shopping at farmer’s markets

growing your own food,

cancel your satellite or cable TV service.

avoid shopping malls, Walmart, and other big box retailers.
take the bus or other mass transit(if you can)

spending less than you make saving the difference.

cutting up your credit cards or keeping them at zero balance and paying them off in full each month.

Refusing to do or even consider any of the above proves that the sneering Cheney is right–our “American way of life” is non-negotiable.

It is so non-negotiable that we, the American people, will tolerate the totalitarian conduct of our present government and “support the troops” as they (in our name) commit mass murder in the Middle East.

That is the true understanding that motivates our elected representatives, as well as the sneering Cheney and his “boy”, to which Barbara has born such eloquent witness.

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barbara aka babs (not verified) | September 25, 2007 - 12:38pm

Poet, you're absolutely right. Dems love to bray about change, but not many of us are willing to do the work. And it occurred to me when I bought a car recently that I don't have the financial wherewithal to do the work. At least, some of it. I can't afford a hybrid, much as I'd love to have one. So I settled for best mileage in my price range.

"My" David was doing simple lifestyle long before it was trendy. Partly by choice and partly by economic necessity. I have learned more about living with integrity in the ten years I've known him than all the years before. For example, he turns off the furnace pilot light in the spring to conserve a few bucks and also gas. We're on the energy plan for our water heater and heat pump/AC combo. David composts all our veggie matter. We have the smallest trash container our hauler offers, and sometimes it's not full. Recyle, recycle, recycle. Yup, yup, yup.

I'm trying to bundle my errand outings such that I don't make multiple treks to the same area in a week's time (longer where possible). Which helps to counter-act the immediate gratification dealie so many of us are used to.

Bragging? Ah, jeez, I suppose. But really, my intention here is to inventory what we're doing and looking at what more might be possible.

Next year, the veggie garden.

But all of this is essentially invisible to . . . pretty much everyone. And while it makes a wee difference, it's not speaking out to the power brokers.

I might have mentioned this before. But a couple of months ago, friend Margaret and I trekked down to Mankato to visit with Tim Walz. I have had such high hopes for him. And in the space of the five minutes we had with him, my heart knew they've gotten to him. He may or may not still possess the big heart and true spirit that drew me to support him. But he did more talking than listening (it was supposed to be a listening session), and he spoke in talking points.

These are not new things, I guess. But it feels as though the stakes are monumentally higher than ever before. Does every generation feel that way? Maybe. But this is the only generation I'll have. And while it would be the height of arrogance to believe I can fix it, surely you and I and Susan and others who care deeply are called to speak out, loudly and often.

George W. Bush has never been hungry or poor or afraid (except about protecting his own imperial arse) in his life. He has never served his country in the military. He is, in short, a piss-poor choice for leadership, living high on the hog while the little people scramble. And die.

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susan | September 24, 2007 - 7:06pm

Sorry to say, Barb and I are in agreement on this one. (The rally.) It was hot and windy and felt like a scene from On the Beach, the circa 1959 movie about the world after nuclear war, starring Ava Garner and Gregory Peck. (I think that's right.) That movie made a big imprint on my gelatinous pre-pubescent brain. Best as I recall, at the end, as the nuclear fall-out from N. America is blowing down to Australia, and people realize they're going to die, there's a recurring scene of a park and a revival meeting, with fewer and fewer people at each successive meeting, until it's just a banner fluttering in the wind and some garbage blowing around. I don't recall, but I think that's because everyone's given up hope and gone home to drink cyanide, rather than suffer a dreadful death by radiation.

Yes, generally I'm a little darker in my outlook than Barb. And that's saying something. The rally was hot and windy and banners fluttered but it wasn't empty, and most of us aren't home drinking, at least not cyanide, at least not yet.

But there weren't many of us there -- 300-500 -- and we were all mostly grey, (think Marv Davidov, iconic Honeywell protestor of yore) and it did feel dated and devoid of energy. When we are so voiceless, we find our power in numbers, and when the numbers are low, it's doubly depressing.

That said, the program had heart if not much of a beat. Each speaker was brief, on point. Gold Star mother Becky Lourey was more compelling and impressive than ever, the veteran who's now a member of Veterans against the war tugged my heart, and the last speaker, a father of a soldier in Iraq, broke it.

We'd like to tell you that you missed the big one, but you didn't. It was good to see who was there -- Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak, (introduced as as Rye-T Arbak) and senate candidates Al Franken and Mike Ciresi working the crowd. My opinion on who takes on Norm Coleman? It's all about Al. He's really getting the campaign thing down. And if you're inclined to donate, do it before the end of the quarter, September 30. Go to Al Franken.com to learn more and to make a contribution. Number of donors is as important as number of dollars, so anything you can do . . .

Think I'll go rent On the Beach to cheer me up. Oh, wait. Ken Burn's The War is on, I knew I'd find something light if I held off long enough.

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barbara | September 25, 2007 - 12:49pm

You know what? "On the Beach" is a great metaphor for what's happening here. More scary in the real now, maybe, because the people aren't dead. They just act that way.

I'm a Franken fan, too. Lordy, lordy, Susan and I agree on that as well. Won't go into details of how I arrived at that choice. Suffice it to say I'm not high on Ciresi, and as David noted, "Do we really need another lawyer in the Senate?"

In line with Poet's post above, maybe it's smart to figure out how much we're going to spend (individually) over the coming year to support candidates, and then figure out how we're going to parcel that out. As Susan noted, quanitity of donors is almost as important as size of donations. Especially at the end of each quarter (which corresponds with traditional calendar quarters). So mark the last day of September, December, March, June and September on your calendar. This is something else we can do. Assuming we can ID candidates we trust. (sigh)

Actually, that little speech was directed by me to me as well as to you. World without end, amen.

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Anonymous (not verified) | September 25, 2007 - 2:15pm

Moveon and the NYT let the out the remaining air that was in your little balloon, not to mention the other kooks, and yes Wiley Alf is one of them, that do not go over well with mainstream folks. ( No, you are not quite mainstream. Probably the residual effect of Haight Ashbury's hazardous chemicals would be my guess)

300-500? No, 250 would be pushing it. 100 of those looked like they would never be interested in full time employment anywhere for any wage.

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