Sunday, March 19, 2006

Peace, Everyone

Scenes from my Saturday afternoon outside the local military base....

It was the third anniversary of the beginning of the U.S-led war on Iraq.

Banners were unfurled, speeches were made, and the Raging Grannies in their wild hats strummed their guitars and sang for peace.

A war resister from the States spoke eloquently on his reasons for refusing to go to Iraq. Among other more moral considerations, he had finished his five year contract in the army when he became part of the widespread "stop-loss" measures which involuntarily extended his "contract" to 2031. The number was not a typo.

I may be an idealist but I believe in peace demonstrations. There are a lot of terribly misguided military operations and policies out there right now, and it seems to me that if people don't speak out against them, then apathy gives a sort of implied acceptance of them. And although it seems as if the politicians in power right now give very little attention to such gatherings, I still believe it's worthwhile to spend a few hours out of my weekend to state my opinion publicly in this way.

There are wars being fought now for all the wrong reasons, and I don't want my country to be part of them.

I was somewhat heartened by the military vehicles that "honked for peace" as they passed by the assembled crowd.

I also ran into lots of people I hadn't seen in a while--my friends Fireweed and Mike are the ones with the USA has Mad Cowboy Disease sign.

I saw a familiar costume today, last seen three years ago at another demonstration against the war on Iraq on the 17th Street Bridge: that tall Peace is Patriotic costume with the Canadian flag on the top hat was worn by Jeff back then. Today the local Green Party candidate was the one inside.

Today I held one end of a banner that simply showed a photograph of the Earth from space.

Last time I carried a sign that read Make Love, Not War . The slogan may be a cliche, but it's just common sense and more fun besides.

P.S. I would like to add to this post in answer to Sherry's comment, as I like Sherry and her blog very much and believe she deserves a reply :

Sherry, I have both American friends and friends in the military who have served in the Gulf. I don't believe that showing my disagreement to certain military actions is a sign of disrespect to the PEOPLE in the military.

But I believe that in this post-911 world, human rights in both your country and mine are being slowly eroded by fear. And sometimes its the fear of being thought of as unpatriotic, or the fear that questioning the validity of a mission will send the message that it is the troops that aren't valued. They are human lives. They ARE of the utmost value. Wouldn't it be awful if lives were squandered and nobody said a word? And that is why I don't believe that questioning the governments' (yours AND mine) is innappropriate.

Specifically, the main reason I was out Saturday morning was that the government of Canada is expanding our Canadian role from one of peace-keeping in Afghanistan to taking over part of the U.S. combat role at the U.S.'s request. This decision was made without benefit of parliamentary debate, and many, many Canadians (including myself) believe this is unacceptable.


kimber the wolfgrrrl said...

Is that Jeff? In the top hat? ROFL! Yay Jeffy!

I'm glad to see that there are still people gathering to protest; after so many HUGE protests around the globe, the number of protests in my area tapered off, and it seems to me that the world has been depressingly silent and complacent for the last few years.

Sherry said...

I'm proud to be an AMERICAN.
I support our soldiers 100%.
We wouldn't be free if it wasn't for them and I am a daughter of a soldier that fought for our freedom in 2 seperate wars.
I agree that it is time for this to end BUT we AMERICANS have to stand behind everything we believe in and support our troops until they get home.
What would the rest of the world do if 9-11 would have happened on their doorstep??? They would have called our Mad COWBOY!

Tim Rice said...

I appreciate your taking a stand and expressing it. It's something that I don't do enough of in respect to this war. And when I have, it is mostly in writing letters to my representatives and privately expressing my concerns to friends around me.

It's too easy for us to choose violence as a solution to threats and perceived threats. But violence generally only begets more violence whether now or later. So I salute you for your stand.

Wendy C. said...

It is a very interesting perspective to view photos of your Saturday protests after witnessing ours here in the States. Our town held a peace rally Saturday (like many places all over the world) and it did feel a bit like no one was paying attention - I suppose the hope is there. And while I support the humans serving in the military, I really just want vindication for the lies that placed them in harms way. And as gently as I can, I wonder how can anyone anywhere think any of this is being done in the name a freedom - living under lies is NOT freedom to me.Our freedom was never threatened by Iraq - and Iraq has NOTHING to do with 9/11. Each of those brave young service-men and woman could have been my child...they ARE someone's child...and at this late juncture, I want to see justice...just once, I would like to see the right thing happen. And I will stand up and cheer from my guts when they all come home!

Sign me,
Military Brat
(BOTH parents)

Tai said...

Being able to disagree with your government IS something we've fought for, and WON the right to do.

That a government is putting ALL of those men and women at risk for something less than honest is where (I think) the real problem lies.

I don't believe that actively showing your disagreement with government descions is wrong.

The day that it IS wrong, is the day to fear.

Gingers Mom said...

I absolutely agree that you have the right and freedom to express your opinions about your government. That is one of the great things about living in a free country. On the other hand, as a US Navy wife, I have found it insensitive to protest outside the gates of a military base. I am proud of my husband and the causes that our nation is standing for. I am proud that the United States has stood for the freedoms of others in nations like Afganistan and Iraq. And despite what the media may portray, many of our friends who have served in Iraq say that the citizens are nothing but grateful for freedom they have been able to experience.
I completely respect that each of us has the right to disagree with one another and their government. However, like I said, in my opinion demonstrating outside a military base seems disrespectful to the men and women who volunteer to protect our nation. My husband and I have seen many of these protests and I can't tell you how many times we have been "flipped off" and shouted at by protestors. (not that I am in any way implying that is the type of person YOU are). But it happens. Alot.

Liz said...

Being stuck in Texas I don’t hear many people say they are against the war. You give me hope that somewhere there are people who will end this madness. Thank you for not only having your opinion but also protesting.

Also, I agree with you that saying your against the war does NOT mean you do not support the troops. Those guys are not the ones that make the call to go to war, they are just doing their jobs. The ones that make the call are sitting in big leather chairs in DC and they are the people I don’t support.

Valkyrie said...

I believe people have the right to demonstrate peacefully-- as long as I do not feel threatened and as long as I can get home without hurting anyone.

***Double_Oh_No*** said...

I agree in peaceful demonstrations, as well. I marched in one a couple years ago, as a matter of fact.

Keep in mind, there are MANY MANY MANY of us Americans who don't want our nation involved in this war, either. It's not America's war; it's Bush's war. There is a difference. It's so derogatory and insulting to be classified with the arrogant pricks holding political office in this country.

Mel said...

I totally agree with the demostrations over the past weekend. Double Oh NO Summed it for me....I dont feel as this is OUR war its Bush's war. I did not support it in the beginning, and I do not support it now. I do however support the troops, they have done a tremedous job with they had. Its time to bring them home. I am the dauhgter of a veteran too.

I dont get the whole mad cowboy reference though.....

Cathy said...

I agree with you Spider Girl and the rest of the world would call on the UN (not the mad cowboy, as Sherry commented).

Crystal said...

In Chicago there was also a demostration, I think 7,000 people showed up and I regret not going. We had a weekend guest visiting and so it just didn't feature into the plans, but I DO think it is SO SO important for people to speak out and send a sign that it is NOT okay to invade a sovereign country and launch a unilateral war. I'm a disabled vet, I'm all for supporting the troops, but not only are they dying in mass but the Iraqi people are also suffering a great deal.

Grant said...

Are you sure the horn honking was intended to be a show of support? If so, allow me to extend the middle finger of peace.

Gingers Mom said...

Interesting you say that it is Bush's war. Wasn't all but 2 in Congress that voted we should go to war with Iraq? Including John Kerry...

The Phoenix said...

Mad Cowboy Disease

That's a good one!

By the way, it's not really just Bush's war. Congress voted and supported it, although it was largely based on false information.

Chloe said...

totally agree and support you. You rock Spider :)

Pol* said...

I had a nice little rant about it the other day (our involvement in the war that is) and I am so proud that you have taken it out in public to voice it!!!!!

SkyeBlue2U said...

Spider, I generally go to these but this year, I took my friend to the beach it was her bday and she can't drive anymore and that's what she wanted to do most of all.

blackcrag said...

Some people are either sensitive over America's involvement in the war (and understandably as there is a lot of flack out there) or they didn't read this post carefully enough.

Spider's protest wasn't about the war in Iraq, nor was it against the U.S. government... Spider protested the Canadian government's increased presence and expanded role in Afghanistan.

Somewhere in the comments people got sidetracked into the U.S.-Iraq war. Kristin commented on how it is disrespectful to protest outside a military base. Where does she suggest the protest happen?

In a small, mostly rural community, protests outside the local City Hall will not be noticed. The people who protested chose to do so where they thought it would gain a modicum of attention, the federal military base, which is also one of the largest employers there.

I come from that community myself. The people there do support the military. Some of them are military personnel or related to military personnel. Those that aren't usually have friends who are in the military.

But that doesn't mean they will say silent when they disagree with a governmental decision. Freedom of speech is one of many things both the U.S. and Canada share, and Spider and friends excercised that right with restraint and decorum.

Canada has a history of peace-keeping, not war mongering, and it is the government's diverging from that role many Canadians object to.

BostonPobble said...

I was a military wife for a long time and staunchly support the men and women in uniform. And I believe what our government is doing in Iraq ~ and elsewhere ~ has become wrong. They are not mututally exclusive feelings. Thanks for expressing them so eloquently. One of my favorite quotes is from Benjamin Franklin (with apologies to him for the poor paraphrase): Those who would sacrifice liberty for a little security deserve neither liberty nor security.

Peace, Spider.