Thursday, March 20, 2008

Shocked, but not awed

Originally uploaded by Martina
Tonight marks the fifth anniversary of the Bush administration's loathsome war. It is a war that was waged under not just false but manipulative pretenses, feeding on the fears of a post-9/11 America. A war that, despite its high cost in human life, leaves us no safer than we were before it started. It has created a whole new generation of veterans who will suffer its after effects for a lifetime, a new generation of Iraqis who will remember us as the nation of people who killed their children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. It is enough to leave a person abyssmally depressed with the state of the world in which we live.

For all the good it did, I was one of those people who protested the invasion of Iraq before it began. I have been to many protests since then. After five long years, I am tired of feeling like my country has been hijacked. Sometimes I feel like a victim of national identity theft with the Bush administration using my credit cards to rack up all kinds of purchases I neither need nor want. Apparently I am not alone. As of this month, reports the 65% of all adults (and a whopping 91% of Democrats!) disapprove of the way George Bush has handled the war.

Lately I've been wondering what difference the expressions of disapproval have really made. It certainly doesn't seem to have affected the war. Would it be any worse if we hadn't said anything? I don't see how this administration could have made more of an effort to ignore us. It doesn't even seem to have made a big impression with some of the Democrats who are supposed to represent me and others like me. When it really counted, a lot of them caved, more worried about electability than simply doing the right thing. And now we are left robbed of trillions of dollars that could have been diverted to schools, healthcare and services to better the lives of people. Frustrating.

This year, for the first time since the war started, I did not attend the annual peace rally that took place last weekend to mark the its anniversary. Frankly, I had fallen into feeling pretty hopeless. But, then, today I received a about an event taking place in Pioneer Square.

This event was not so much anti-war as it was pro-peace. It was not about drums or chanting, just dialogue and a little candlelight. A hundred or so people gathered in the square, dividing into two circles and sharing experiences, poetry, and thoughts about what it means to be a responsible citizen of the global community.

In its own quiet way. It was inspiring. At a time when my own energy had begun to flag, it was good to be around people who cared so deeply and were sharing the small ways they to try to contribute to making things better. The best part was that it was organized not by some old hippie veteran of Vietnam protests (not that there's anything wrong with them), but by a young man.

It pleases me when young people are principled and passionate enough become involved in lifting their communities. Funny that I, a normally hopeful individual on the verge of pre-geezerhood needed a nudge from a young guy with such faith in our capacity to bring about a change.

And, so, at the end of a grey day that began with me just feeling angry and sad about what this administration has done, I am still angry. BUT, thanks to a bunch of neighbors I don't even know, but who took the time to gather together for an hour to think about the small ways in which we all can make a difference, I am also feeling just a little more hopeful.

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