Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Activism will live on.

Yesterday I read that Cindy Sheehan ( see related news story here )is giving up being a peace activist. I feel so sad for this lady. If I were in her position, I would probably do the same thing that she has been doing. When I was a young lady of twenty, I was locked in full-fledged animal rights activist mode. Back then nobody did anything like bomb labs, or at least nobody I knew. Our shtick was to stand outside events like rodeos and circuses, handing out leaflets.

Of course we were never met with the expected response. Of course we hoped that everyone would take one look at our carefully written diatribes, tear up their tickets and join our cause. Of course that never happened. Not one person, out of the thousands of people we handed papers to, EVER joined in. I have always wondered if we managed to make an impact on one person. I noticed that our leaflets were used mostly as chewed-up gum receptacles. One time, a police officer who was trying to get rid of us pointed out the sea of blue papers littering the blacktop at the state fair grounds. "You kids care s'damn much about the world, and lookit all that garbage you've produced. A bunch a hypocrites if you ask me. Why don't you pick all that litter up, 'fore I decide to arrest you for littering." We dutifully picked up the hundreds of our lovingly folded leaflets, honestly feeling sorry that we in fact had wasted paper and had in fact contributed to the total mass of litter in the world.

Another time, the very last time I ever protested anything, we made the mistake of protesting one too many rodeos in a particular county. They were ready for us to move on, I guess. As I held out a leaflet to a guy who appeared to be friendly enough and around my age, I remember him grabbing my arm instead of the leaflet. He threw me on the dirt and started kicking me with those ridiculous pointy, high-heeled "cowboy" boots. Two broken ribs and a fat lip. Damn near got my veneers knocked out! Now it was getting serious. You don't want to mess with your veneers.

So in honor of Cindy's white flag, I would like to offer support and encouragement to anyone who may be considering protesting anything. Do it until you can't do it any longer. People do not know how much the world depends on those who work to change it, but that's OK. We can't all be activists our whole lives. But there is no harm in doing as much as you can. For inspiration, here is a poem. It could have been written today, but it was not. It was written by a young man who was a decorated soldier (British) in WWI.

Does it Matter?

Does it matter?—losing your legs?...
For people will always be kind,
And you need not show that you mind
When the others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs.

Does it matter ?—losing your sight?...
There's such splendid work for the blind;
And people will always be kind,
As you sit on the terrace remembering
And turning your face to the light.

Do they matter?—those dreams from the pit?...
You can drink and forget and be glad,
And people won't say that you're mad;
For they'll know you've fought for your country
And no one will worry a bit.

-Siegfried Sassoon

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