Sunday, March 18, 2007

Are we done yet?

Stop the War!
Originally uploaded by Martina.
Four years ago around this time, I was in a Canadian hotel watching as my country shocked and awed its way into a quagmire of a war that has now squandered thousands upon thousands of lives and evaporated whatever good will existed toward this country after 9/11. I protested the war before it started and I've protested it every year since.

Every peace rally I have ever been to (and I'm sadly finding myself racking up too many of them) has had a character of its own. Today, as nine friends and I joined 10,000 Portlanders in calling for an end to the war, the mood seemed subdued. Maybe it was just the our area of the march or maybe my own mood is coloring my perception), but this was one of the quieter marches I've been to. I think people are just growing tired.

We're tired of wars fought based on manipulations of intelligence, tired of innocent people being killed in our names, tired of seeing our citizens come home with lost limbs, PTSD and any other number of physical and psychological problems, tired of an administration that feels it is above international law, just plain tired.

Speakers at the event included representatives from Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, American-Iranian Friendship Council, an Iraqi-Palestinian writer/activist Raed Jarrar) with Rev. Lynne Smouse López of Ainsworth UCC as the final speaker.

As Rev. López wrapped up her comments, the bells of First Congregational UCC began to toll, setting a solemn tone. For me, hearing those bells as people began to crowd out of the South Park Blocks was one of the most moving, beautiful moments of the event. I've said it many times before, but there is something incredible about being surrounded by 10,000 other people of like heart and mind. We may not all agree on the details, but we were one in our desire for the wasteful, needless war to end. It's encouraging, especially when the current situation can easily leave a person just feeling frustrated and helpless.

I don't want to see the U.S. on lists of the most hated countries. I don't want to feel like I have to apologize for our behavior as world citizens, yet I do. As my friend Julie said, "We're not even playing Big Brother anymore. It's gotten to the point where we're just Big Bully."

And, yet, there is something hopeful in the fact that somewhere around 90 different community groups joined together to plan this event in fairly short order and that the main rally and march were carried off peacefully without any major disruptions. There are so many dedicated activists in this city. This big rally each year is just one of many, many events that go on. It gets more press, because of the numbers involved, but there are people out there saying "No" and working steadily for an end to this craziness every day. Tonight as I sit, resting my sore feet, I am grateful for them and I am grateful for the thousands who turned out this afternoon. It inspires me; it makes me want to do more. Again, Portland, I can say that I am proud to call you home!

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