I had the pleasure today of hearing Medea Benjamin speak. Even though she and I have written together, we had never met each other in person. It was so inspiring to be in her presence. Not only did she give an amazing talk about how to build the peace movement, she also walked her talk. A man in the audience was being disruptive and belligerent (even though he professed to agree with everything she said); when he asked her what specific steps she would take to enact change, and then asked her to hurry with her answer because he needed to go to lunch, she said, very pointedly, something to the effect of "The first thing we need to do is be kind to one another and respect one another's voices." He had berated an earlier attendee for taking too long to ask a question, so this was a direct hit, kind but firm. The room broke into applause and the man stormed away using his walker (the talk was held at a religious, social-justice-focused retirement community in Claremont.) She handled it--just as she handled being dragged out of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions--with great grace.
Several people from Riverside were there, which was wonderful; it's been great to see the peace movement grow within our conservative town. If any of you are in the area, please keep October 15th open. It is the night my friend Nancy and I are hosting Inspire Hope 2: Riverside Responds to Hurricane Katrina. The fundraiser will feature live music, belly dancing, poetry, and more, and will take place at Back to the Grind, 3575 University Ave., at 6:30pm. If you are interested in performing, please let me know.