City of Roses
Hey, I was just digging back into the archives and was glad I found this lying around down there.
Now, with it being nearly two years since this discussion started, I thought now would be a great time to "Protest The Protesters Who Protest The Protesters" (giggles)
A lot certainly has happened since this discussion came to a rest on April 7th, 2003.
Most of the 1,507 American troops who have died in this war have died since then, a majority after Bush declared "Mission accomplished!". Most of the approximately 35,800 wounded and the 107,000 Iraqi civilians killed have died since then, also a majority after May 2, 2003.
Fallujah, the city lying in the middle of the single greatest battle in this war, was destroyed to save it.
Abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib continue to happen and often go unsolved or unjustified.
Over $155 billion has been spent already and another $80 billion is expected to be asked for soon, bringing the total cost of this war to over the cost of Vietnam. While this is happening, the administration says it can't afford $300 million in more money for Pell Grants, less than 0.5 percent of what it is spending on this war, among many other domestic and governmental programs that have been cut that didn't have to be if not for this behemoth militaristic Yahtzee.
There have been tentpoles throughout the developing timeline of this ongoing war which brought us temporarily solace and thought to be turning points, with the comfort proving all too stoppable.
The death of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, was supposed to be a turning point. The capture of Saddam himself was supposed to be a turning point. The transfer of power at the end of June was supposed to be a turning point. The taking back of Fallujah was supposed to be a turning point. And, most recently, the elections in Iraq, where eight million courageous Iraqis who came out and risked their lives to vote and wanted their voice to be heard loud and clear for freedom to the fullest extent, freedom from tyranny, freedom from oppression and freedom from foreign occupation.
The fact is, the only turning point will be when the United States turns around and leaves. Opinion polls continue to show that a clear majority of Iraqi citizens, both Shi'ites and Sunnis, want our occupation to end and for us to withdraw either immediately or once the government is set in place, which they want instilled as soon as possible.
Foreign policy should never be shaken or gambled like a game of Yahtzee. Whether the promising recent events of Lebanon protesters encouraging the Pro-Syrian government to withdraw, Egypt announcing multi-party elections or Saudi Arabia demanding Syria to remove all forces from Lebanon are coincidential to the Middle East agenda or a catalyst inspired by the war in Iraq, the thesis in going to war was otherwise, and simply when the thesis is incorrect or proven false, there limits the credit any such government earns from launching an invasion such as this, and rather appears as luck or fortune. The main point in going to war was that many were believed Saddam had WMD's and was capable of striking his neighbors with them. That thesis has been proven false, and the claim of "spreading freedom and democracy to the region" was seldom ever mentioned and only now has become the recurring theme as the war goes on.
But most significantly, here on our own soil, Americans are uneasy and are disapproving of the war more than ever, with one example being the Associated press poll done on February 23, 2005, where people in nine countries were asked about their attitudes to Bush's plan to promote democracy, and not ONE nation expressed a majority of people believing America should be doing so. Even here in America, 53% didn't believe that.
The world has spoken, and indeed I believe myself no individual country should make the decision for all the world. We ought to let the world come together again and hug our international community.
We have also learned since April 7th, 2003 of some truths of our media and the war.
The fact is, the anti-war voice was virtually completely suppressed leading up to the beginning of the war, despite 61% saying two weeks before the war began on March 19, 2003 that more time should be given for inspections and/or diplomacy. According to Fairness in Accuracy and Reporting, out of 393 interviews conducted in the few weeks leading up to the war in Iraq after Powell's visit to the U.N across the four major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS), only three (less than 1%) were anti-war, and two of them came from Ted Kennedy.
And the few instances you do see protesters in the media, it always so happen to be the ugly, unruly instances that come up every once in a while, when in general the protests are actually rather peaceful and mean well.
You saw history being made during the Republican National Convention in New York City last August, where over 500,000 marched from Union Square to Madison Square Garden in the rally hosed by United For Peace & Justice, more than any other single convention rally in history, with dozens of other protests happening all throughout the city and the nation without trouble. You saw the incredible peace and non-violence among the whole crowd, with nothing but a paper dragon float burning too hot and giving an officer some burns and one other exception, Jamal, hitting detective William Sample off his scooter. Otherwise, it couldn't have been any more peaceful.
Even with Bush re-elected, even with Bush making his most striking speech yet in his inaugural address, calling for a wide-scale campaign in fighting terror worldwide, more and more are seeing through the rhetoric, and more and more are speaking out.
The anti-war movement has grown, and it continues to grow, even when it is not being televised, even when no end is in sight and all may appear hopeless, even when our media continues to distort the mission statement.
Two years ago, you saw the fog of uncertainty enshroud you. Now we are walking through it like a bead curtain. Now the voice of democracy and the dove is on the march.
We pacifists, war skeptics, of all parties and spectrums alike support our troops and are as American and anti-terror as our neighbors who support the war. The only difference is how we believe in resolving these conflicts that are critical in our world today, and I, among all other pacifists, believe war only incites more war and terror, and only love and understanding truly dissolves the emotions that incite this type of behavior.
Pacifists, progressives, etc. like myself hold dear and worship the philosophy of our beloved Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who became one of the most loved and legendary social figures of the 20th Century in expressing his philosophy of non-violence, civil equality, and the love of all mankind.
We hold these words he spoke true to our hearts each day as we continue to work for peace:
"Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."
Moreover, we may not all believe in God under the same name, but we all believe in the Holy Spirit just as much as the next American, and I believe deep in my heart Jesus characterized non-violence and the sword he said he brought with him was a healing sword, a sword that heals of peace.
The fact is, this cold civil war must stop should we move on and come back together as a society. I for one, as a pacifist, have many conservative and Republican friends who I love and am blessed to have in my life. We may not always agree, but it is our differences and varieties that add spice to life and make us appreciate one another even more, like in any relationship. I learn from them each day and believe I become a better and more accepting person with their help. And I believe throughout all our nation's history, conservatives and liberals alike have designed the tapestry of our great nation which we cherish and hold dear.
In final word, let it be recognized as I continue to protest this war in Iraq among many others, including on the forthcoming second anniversary of it in two weeks, I'm not protesting it out of "self-proclaimed self-righteousness", I'm not protesting it out of any vengeful behavior.
I'm protesting it because of the deep passion in all my heart in preserving and defending the "dream". I'm protesting it not out of who's right, but what is sound, and in my heart war is cynical and any loss that results in it could always have been spared. I'm protesting it out of my heartful philosophy that war only builds tension and is unhealthy to mankind.
Like that honorable soldier who Balladeer saw on TV, who passed out the food and water to Iraqi children and was asked what he was thinking, I have matured and continue to learn exactly why I bother taking time out of my schedule each week to take to the streets and volunteer with the community.
And I have to say, frankly, I was most inspired on October 3rd, 2004, when I co-organized a major historic rally in Portland, Oregon where almost 10,000 turned out and participated in. That day, dozens of children were out there who took part in the march, many wearing peace capes and these little angels were giggling and cheerfully skipping around flying kites and waving peace flags.
And one little girl showed me a painting she made, depicting her sleeping in bed, dreaming, and in a big bubble of what she was dreaming of everyone holding hands of all nationalities, with a rainbow arching above them with a peace sign and a dove. The sight of seeing that made me cry in tears of warmth.
That, to me, is my moment when I thought, "Now I know why I am here!" The world is full of dreamers who dream beautiful dreams, and I want to see a world for our children in the future where they could all live together in peace and not fear of turning on the TV or overhearing talk from their parents of this ugliness in our world.
The fact is, we pacifists DO share that same feeling. In fact, we live and breathe with this feeling each and every day from the bottom of our heart. And that is why we have the faith and courage to organize with our communities, that is why, even when we doubt our rally could change the world at large, we do what we do just for the good of it. That feeling is the primary resource that invigorates our faith each day.
Now, I wish each day everyone else could imagine and believe in this vision, someway, somehow, but moreover, that the instinct comes not forced or imposed, but comes as a soft note, an epiphany, that comes naturally like the thawing of a rolling spring.
In closing, I have one wish, one desire I have to offer, that is all too familiar, yet all too relevant and revered:
"You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I hope someday you will join us,
and the world will live as one"
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"