Friday, August 10, 2007

Words of War; Words of Peace

I’m just back from picketing against the war (and Bush and Cheney and the Democrats who caved and killing and ignorance and, and, and ).

A rag-tag six of us were down at the busy, commuter-clogged corner of Sunset Boulevard and Capitol Highway from 5:30 to 6 this evening.

A few hundred cars cruise by, headed into the sultry August weekend.

A few drivers honk encouragement. Some give the thumbs up. Most glance at the signs then stare steadfastly straight ahead, avoiding eye contact. They are weary.

One, on a motor bike, flipped me off, which I found oddly uplifting.

I’ve been brandishing the same signs for several weeks. “On to Plan B: Impeach,” “War is Wrong,” “Leave Iraq to the Iraqis,” “Get Out Now!”

My slogans are getting stale. Time for a change, but to what?

Certainly events have changed while my signs have remained the same. In light of the latest giveaway of our privacy, I like the bumper sticker “You can’t take my rights, I’m using them.” But watching the dazed, home-bound commuters, I’m reminded of how few Americans use or even care about their rights.

No pithy new phrases come to me. Maybe I need something that strikes closer to home. “Hillsdale for Peace” or “100 Oregonians dead. For what?” Or, “Don’t call home; call Wu.” (The brevity of U.S. Rep. David Wu’s name is a sign writer’s Godsend.)

The most troubling part of this wrestling with new words was having the time to think about it but still coming up empty.

What if events changed in a bomb-blast instant? What if there were a catastrophic domestic terrorist attack?

What do our signs say then? “Peace now, more than ever!” “We told you it wasn’t working!”

Or do we leave the field at the corner of Sunset and Capitol to atavistic avengers with their signs: “United We Stand,” “These Colors don’t Run,” "America, Love it or Leave it!" etc.

What happens to the peace movement if the fear mongers are right, or if this nation is shown to be as vulnerable as Bush’s critics say he has left us?

Standing on the corner with my “War is Wrong” sign, I suddenly felt the fragility of it all — of the peace movement, of hope, of humanity, of life.

Maybe my new sign should read “End the Fragility!”

Would the commuters still honk? Would anyone give me the thumbs up? Or flip me off?

Or would they just keep driving, eyes on the road, headed for home?

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