I went to one of the most hopeful events I’ve ever been to today. My eyes are open now, and I’ve had to start getting more and more involved in the anti-war movement.
Let me preface this by explaining one of the reasons for my apathy in community involvement. The world breaks my heart too much. It made me afraid to see. Once you open your eyes, of course, you can’t shut them.
So I kept my eyes closed because I didn’t want it to affect my life. I didn’t think I had the strength to take on the world’s problems and my own. And I knew, once I started to see everything wrong around me, I’d start falling apart. I’d start trying to pour myself into the breach in America, trying to fix it.
When Bush won last fall, I thought about going back to Canada. Or to the UK. Either way, out of America. But I decided to stay, not just for my career (which is far better off here) but because I wanted to say, fuck that. I’m going to fight for my country. I’m a goddamn American, and I believe in the hope that this country’s given people for years – even if that hope is ill-gotten and ill-gained and false at times. I’m going to stay right here and try to figure out how to make this a better place.
In the course of my studies in Los Angeles, I have realized a lot of things that are wrong with the city, and by extension, with America. In the course of my time in the States, I have had to think about and identify the things that have made me sad, that have been psychologically destructive. And now, I feel like I’m ready to pick a few things that I can throw myself into, ways I can make my city, my country, a better place.
And that’s when I joined CodePINK, and started looking for ways to serve my community. I’m planning to start with SchoolsOnWheels.org soon. I started sending donations to the ACLU and Environment California, and pushing the SB-1 bill. As soon as kickball settles down, I’m going to find a way to get a local theater to screen the End of Suburbia, because I’ve had to accept Peak Oil as imminent lately I signed up today to cook and serve on Sundays for the homeless in Venice. I ride in Critical Mass, not just because I love defying the materialistic assholes in luxury SUVs that threaten me on my bike, but because I think more people should ride bikes, and it would make the city a better place if people did. I am going to light my fucking candles, dammit. I am going to kindle light even if the system that America’s sold out to is going to let more and more people fall into darkness. And I am going to take what Los Angeles has taught me over the past year, and apply it as best I can
So today, I went to a teach-in led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Who is simply and absolutely amazing. She’s leading the Out of Iraq caucus in Congress, and her office coordinated and put on today’s event. I had expected a protest, outside in hot sun, with speakers attempting to keep the attention of a crowd trying to simultaneously wave signs at passers by. What I found, when I got there an hour before start, was dozens of people finding seats in an air-conditioned church, and setting up booths outside in the parking lot.
There were groups showing up, of course, but my favorite were South Central Farmers:
And here’s a story on them:
That was one of the most hopeful moments I’ve had in a long time. Seeing that organization walk in, realizing it even existed, brought so much hope into my world. That’s just wonderful, that a group of people are doing something so positive in South Central Los Angeles.
Eventually, all the groups were set up and handing out their literature. Of course, Code Pink had expected more actual action and less sitting down, so we were all wearing our pink slips with Bush Administration lies written on them. Mine said, “LIE #19: “WAR ON TERROR” (AKA WAR IS PEACE)” I think the whole concept of a war on terror is a lie, and it just promotes the fear that allows the justification for this war. I think the war on terror is an Orwellian concept, straight out of 1984, hence the reference. And I was totally prepared to yell that all damn day.
It turned out I didn’t have to. What I did do was sit down and listen for hours. To the Congresswoman, to the former head of ACLU SoCal, to the founders of Iraq Veterans Against the War. To the Reverend from the united faith efforts, to the mother from Parents Against Militarism In Schools. And to the parents whose children had died in Iraq. To the mother whose son had died patrolling an oil well.
That was when I started weeping. Hi, welcome to reality, Jillian! This war isn’t something I can ignore anymore, but something that is causing massive amounts of pain and misery. It’s causing it to the soldiers who are maimed and come back without support from the country that sent them to war. It’s causing misery to the Iraqi civilians who are dying at US hands every single day. It’s causing destruction in the effects of the weaponry, the depleted uranium and chemicals, that are being used in Iraq. And it’s sucking the resources out of America that could go to lessening suffering in other areas.
They brought out a financial analyst who detailed how much money was going to Haliburton. And who informed us that Haliburton hire third world workers at $15 a day for menial jobs, from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka. Glad to know that they’re doing such a wonderful humanitarian job. (More info on this is at http://www.democracynow.org/)
And there was even a rapper, a South Central hip-hop artist, who had everyone dancing and chanting to impeach Bush. Hey, I’ll back that. Republicans say Clinton lied and needed to be impeached for that, but Bush? He’s lied just as much. Unless, of course, the Downing Street Memo is falsified
I think what gave me the most hope though was that it was a community event. There were people there of all ages, and from many of the races that make up L.A. This was, after all, in Inglewood. Over a thousand people, all there to support the end of the war. And for the first time ever, I started to believe that there is an alternative to the 1984 future where the masses are completely docile and ignored. I started to believe that there is a chance for what the Congresswoman calls “street heat” to push Bush out of office.
And so, that was today. I came home and slept after that, exhausted from having been up too late last night doing shots with the post-Pressfire party crew. We had to call off the Huntington Beach trip we were planning, to a party down there, and stay home. Instead, a few of us watched Collateral and now I’m home early, and exhausted, on a Saturday.
It was so worth it though. It was an amazing experience. I was so exuberant to be there. And I learned a lot, and left with so much hope. It was so positive. So many people said, we are going to win this war against this corrupt government. And every single one of them did it because they love America. Like I do. My vision for America is the one that these people are also fighting for, and that, that vision of an America where people know the value of pure kindness and happiness, rather than power and greed and illicit war, is what is going to drive me to fight in the months to come.
Are you brave enough to see…do you want to change it?
I think…I think I have to.