Observations Of A Peace Demonstration

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Observations of a Peace Demonstration

Every Friday we hold a peace demo here in Riverside, California (RAPJA.org). On average we have about 10 to 15 people out there protesting the war and demanding an end to the occupation. The usual responses range from people flipping us off, yelling obscenities at us, and actually throwing things at us, to the more friendly honks, waves, and "keep up the good work" well wishers. Smattered within this spectrum of "civil discourse" are the more apathetic of our fellow citizens. The ones who don't seem to notice ten to fifteen of their fellow citizens opposing a war in some far off land. It was one such apathetic passersby that caught my attention last night. Allow me set the stage.

Shortly after having a car of guys drive by and throw a handful of washers at us and call us all a "bunch of liberal pussies" (apparently it takes a lot of guts to throw things at people from a moving vehicle) a guy drives up and stops at the red light directly next to us. I could literally reach out and touch this car. Emblazoned across his shirt is "Peace." Here is a guy who has literally branded himself with the word peace, driving by an actual peace demonstration, and he doesn't even look up. No horn honk. No friendly nod of the head. Nothing.

This just struck me as funny. My imagination starts to go into overdrive when stuff like this happens. I imagine this guys friends complementing him on his "message of peace." He's probably even got some old Beatles tunes in his car. Imagine? He's a walking peace demonstration. No need to actually get involved in the peace movement. He's already spent the required $15 on the shirt. Besides, he's busy! Plus,, driving by an actual peace demonstration with a shirt that says Peace on it is bound to get you some extra positive karma somwhere.

I'm really not picking on this guy. Obviously I don't know him. Maybe he lacks peripheal vision and was unable to see the 15 people standing directly next to his car holding large signs with messages of peace. Maybe he was off to a meeting with another peace and justice group. Maybe I don't know the whole story.

It does, however, serve as an example. For many of us it's hard to see the point in going out on the streets, holding signs, and demanding an end to the war. What's the point? Where are the mechanisms of change? Shouldn't we just wait until the next election where we can vote for change? Isn't that how it works? Ten people holding signs on a street corner aren't going to change the course of this war, are they? I'll throw my peace shirt on, blast some Bob Marley or maybe some John Lennon, and tell anybody that will listen that Bush is a war criminal.

All movements for social justice and peace start off small. Howard Zinn often reminds people in his talks that in 1964 and 1965 only about 50 people were showing up at anti-war rallies at Boston College. A few years later that number was in the hundreds of thousands. Rosa Parks was just one of hundreds, probably thousands, of black people in the South who protested the injustices of segregation. It's all summed up in the credo of Margaret Mead:

Never doubt for a moment that a small group of dedicated people can change
the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

Published in: on April 19, 2006 at 10:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://buddhagem.wordpress.com/2006/04/19/observations-of-a-peace-demonstration/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: