World Without War: A Day of Resistance and Hope
Last Saturday, in spite of intervals of torrential rainfall, several thousand people gathered in the South Park Blocks of Portland, Oregon, to demonstrate against the war in Iraq (and also the torture facilities in Guantanamo Bay, the war in Afghanistan, and other Bush crimes). The rally and march was sponsored by a group called PDX Peace.
I was there, as usual, although this time I went by myself. There were the usual workshops, petitions, and information stations at the rally, and then a slate of speakers. I particularly enjoyed Tom Chamberlain, President of the Oregon AFL-CIO. He was a powerful speaker, and I always love to see organized labor well-represented at these events. Union guys are the tough edge of the peace-and-love crowd: the yang to the hippie yin, if you will. The crowd was an excellent cross-section of the Portland metro area: college students, senior citizens, kids, hispanics, African-Americans, suburbanites and more.
Turnout was better than I expected, but nowhere near the massive demonstration that occurred in 2003. The weather undoubtedly played a role. At one point, during the march, the hail and rain came down so heavily that you'd have sworn the downpour was deliberate. The crowd of demonstrators, led by the March Forth band, put up a cheer of defiance during the deluge, which, made me feel proud...very, very proud in spite of it all.
Because, to tell you the truth, I was sad, actually near to despair, during the rally and the march. I saw all the smiles and the hopeful expressions of the people around me, people of whom I am very proud and for whom I am eternally grateful, and I was heartbroken that these good people are discounted and ridiculed by others. I was heartbroken to think that hateful, ugly corporate titans can ignore the wishes of these people, can callously disregard their hopes and dreams, and do so with impunity.
But I remain committed. That's right. I continue to stand with my people. As long as there are peace rallies and demonstrations, and as long as I am able, I'll be there. I suggest no recriminations toward my sympathetic friends and family that did not attend: the decision to attend or not attend a demonstration is deeply personal. And besides, the necessities of life can often preclude one's ability to demonstrate. (The power brokers know this well, which is why they often view hard times for the proletariat as a good thing. After all, if people can scarcely earn enough money to fill up their gas tanks and put food on the table, they are less likely to make trouble when the mucky-mucks conduct their shady, bloodthirsty business.)
Hope is a scarce commodity these days. My own supply is severely depleted. But I want to encourage those that still have it to hold on to it. If we all indulge in despair, we truly are finished.
Happy Birthday to Seth Cariaga!
Today is Seth Cariaga's 11th birthday. Seth is the youngest of my siblings. He's very, very smart. And he's a great snow-boarder. He is a wonderful uncle to his nephew, Torin, and a joy to be around.
I've often told Seth that he is a good boy, but it bears repeating. Seth Cariaga, you're one of the brightest lights in my life and I love you very much. Happy Birthday!