Yesterday, in an article about Cindy Sheehan's arrest, I read a quote from someone who called the anti-war protestors lemmings. Of course, from our point of view, those who are blindly faithful to Bush often look like lemmings who can't think for themselves. It is so hard to know how to find human connections between the two sides, how to have true communication that doesn't devolve into a shouting match.
After the march on Saturday, I walked to the Lincoln Memorial—so inspiring--and then to the Vietnam Memorial, which is heartbreaking in its simplicity, its scope. So many names on those smooth black walls. I found myself wanting to really feel those names, to feel the pain, the loss, of their families, so I walked for a while with my fingertips brushing against the names, trying to take them under my skin, trying to feel the dignity of every life that was lost. A woman saw me walking in my CODEPINK regalia, running my hand slowly along the wall; she gasped and said to her husband, "Oh, my good Lord Jesus. These young people have no respect for the sacrifice of our troops." I wanted to tell her how I was trying to honor that sacrifice with my fingers, with my presence in the march, but I didn't. I kept walking. I didn't feel like getting into it with her. Now I regret not saying anything; I missed out on a chance for the very sort of dialogue that has been so lacking.
As much as I long to find some common ground, though, I have to say it was so inspiring, so energizing, to be among so many like minded people—in the CODEPINK House, at the march, at the Green Festival. To be surrounded by so many people committed to peace was overwhelming. The march took over 5 hours because there were so many people on the streets; it was exhausting—my body was sore from so much standing, from so much banner-holding and back-pack lugging, my throat was raw from so much chanting and yelling and singing, but I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. I wrote a couple of little chants the night before the march, including this one:
Rita! Katrina!It was so amazing to hear a whole crowd of women voicing my words. I imagine that must be what it's like for songwriters when the audience sings along during a concert—those words are no longer your own; they're part of something bigger. That's not something I often get to experience very often as a novelist—writing a novel, reading a novel, are such solitary endeavors; it was great to have a more communal experience with language. That night, Medea Benjamin invited some CODPINK women to join her on stage at the Operation Ceasefire concert, where she had been invited to speak. We carried the "PEACE ON EARTH" banner I had held all day, and did one of our CODEPINK cheers in front of a crowd of at least 25,000 cheering people, the Washington Monument illuminated behind them. It was great fun. CODEPINK proves that protest can be fun, that peacework can be fun. I love that. I love that I'm able to be part of that.
We need another leada!
War in Iraq!
We want our country back!