Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Each One Teach One

by Lori Perdue

May 29th, 2007, Indiana

I returned to Indiana on Sunday for a much needed recharge of the batteries (which, for me, can only be accomplished when plugged-in to the power of family). I have much to do with my family this month, business as well as recreation, I hope. It's nearly June and in Indiana the evenings are warm but not quite sultry, and I sit on the back porch with a fabric softener dryer sheet tucked into the back of my collar to fend off the mosquitoes.
Yesterday I went to the bookstore. I was looking for the Portable Dorothy Parker in my quest to slowly rebuild my library. I did not find it, but was reminded why I love bookstores and libraries. They present a chance to learn and sometimes to teach. I found a copy of "The Moon Is Always Female" a book of poems by Marge Piercy. It interested me because I am currently reading a novel by that author. Within three poems I was delighted with her work and glad that Piercy and Parker both start with "P". The other item was a real find. It was on sale on a table display. Bonus. I have read this particular work a few times over the years, but haven't since about four years ago. Thomas Paine wrote "Common Sense" in January of 1776 as a pamphlet to be sold on the street. The document was key in empowering the People of the Colonies to move toward revolution.
I am going to tackle both at once in the hope of finding both foundation and direction and return to D.C. empowered and effective.
But that's not the story that leads to the poem I am sending you.
As I stepped up to the cash register, I read aloud the Headline on the cover of Time Magazine. "Report Card on No Child Left Behind" and responded with "Don't they mean No Child Left Un-Recruited." For once, one of my anti-Bush smart-ass remarks elicited an appreciative remark from the nice young man behind the counter. "I'm still upset that they passed that funding bill, the one that pays for the war to go on," this fresh-faced young Hoosier offered. It was like rain falling in the desert.
I have long been pained by the general apathy of the residents of my home state. I have found myself driven to go to Washington D.C. to feel effective in the work to end this war because I craved a higher level of activity than I could find here in Indiana. I was frustrated by what, to me, felt like the General Public refusing to allow such timely and vital topics as an illegal war and unconstitutional occupation of Iraq to be a part of their daily thought or speech. I did not find an overwhelming amount of opposition to the thought that Congress should pass legislation that would bring our troops home safely before I began this mission with CODEPINK in D.C., but rather discovered Hoosiers "hitting the snooze". The People were hearing facts and figures that are a "wake up call", but were half-consciously pushing that little button that allowed them to get another nine minutes of foggy fitful rest. They were opting out of a full wake up, over and over.
To hear this young man, his name is Shawn, offer my own thoughts back to me, unsolicited, brought me sheer joy.
I smiled and questioned him a little more, probing to see if my ears had deceived me. But he reiterated that it was indeed the Supplemental Funding Bill that he was talking about. "I don't understand why they don't just spend the money they have to spend to bring them home right now." I introduced myself as Lori and said that I had been splitting my time between Indy and D.C. working on the Hill to end the war and that I was very glad to meet him. I told him that I couldn't understand it either, really, and was arrested in protest to the first Supplemental that passed the House in March, the one with the time-lines that the Senate removed in favor of non-binding suggestions to George Bush that he consider ending his occupation of Iraq. The bill he promptly vetoed, which I celebrated because it meant Congress would have another shot at passing an effective bill, one that might fulfill the wishes of the People and their mandate for peace after the November elections. The kid didn't quite grasp that I took that action in Congress myself. "They did? People did that?" "I did, with a friend of mine," I clarified. "We got arrested for speaking up while Congress was voting." He blinked. "There are a lot of people on Capitol Hill everyday working to end the war, going to hearings and meetings with staff and with legislators everyday, sometimes catching them in the hallways or even on the sidewalk on their way to a vote in the Capitol. Sometimes getting arrested when we protest," I said, briefly explaining the Lee Amendment, HR 508 and HR 1234. He listened intently and made notes of the legislation. I smiled, wishing I had picked out more books for him to ring up slowly. "You can help, you know," I said, and his eyes widened in an ambiguous manner that I can't quite attribute to either interest or wariness. "Call Congress," I continued. "Look up those bills and then call your Representative and Senators. Tell them what you want them to do in Congress." He handed me the receipt for my newest distraction/inspiration project and the next customer stepped up to him. As I walked away I said, "Call Congress, Shawn, tell your friends to call. Don't forget they work for you, Shawn. Don't let them forget it either."
He waved and said in a bold voice, "I'll call. Thanks, Lori."
He repeated my name and I knew he really would think about that encounter. It will be hard for him to "hit the snooze" on that one. He seemed sincere.
A small action, yes. Behavior that is nothing out of the ordinary among the community of activists with which I have been working. Yet, it was a significant encounter for me because it happened, not in D.C. where local people know a little about the issues, like all people tend to know a little about the issues in their own backyard. I am encouraged because it happened in my backyard. I share it with you now, on a day that the peace movement is reacting to the passage of legislation and dealing with new direction and loss, to tell you that I learned two things; that the Grassroots are growing, blessedly growing, and that if we have to do it one at a time, I, for one, am willing.

And now the promised poem.

Each One
by Lori Perdue

We gotta each one teach one
Get out the word
We gotta save one brave one
This Occupation is absurd

The People are paying the price
In blood and in treasure
It doesn’t matter to Bush, Cheney and Rice
They won’t consider peaceful measures

So we gotta each one teach one
Give the People the power to stand up
We gotta save one brave one
This war is using them up

Tour after tour they keep sending them back
Now they’re deploying the National Guard to pick up the slack
The war machine is chewing them up and spitting them out
And I keep expecting the People to stomp and shout

But I wind up questioning "Where is the heart in the Heartland?"
And "Why won’t the good people of America take a stand?"
Our troops and so many Iraqis are dying; blood for oil spilled onto the sand
While Mid-westerners offer up their children, wait for the phone to ring and wring their hands

We gotta each one teach one
The People have the power to make this stop
We gotta save one brave one
Staying the course is not reason enough for killing in Iraq

This is a war for oil my people, although they spin it when they can
Iraq did not have WMD and they didn’t attack our land
This is a war of choice my friends, a mission of retribution, man against man
And unless you speak up, speak out, the blood is on your hands.

Each one
Teach one
To save one
Brave one


Deidra Lynch said...

Thank you Lori!
You are an amazing sister for peace. I am glad to stand by your side and I understand your joy in reaching someone in your own home state. We all must keep trying to do that. As you said:

unless you speak up, speak out, the blood is on your hands.

Each one
Teach one
To save one
Brave one


Jody Bolduc said...

Hi lori!

I just read your latest entry on the DC blog from Indiana...I really liked it, and it meant a lot to me. Haveing been involved with the Code Pink in CA, and being lucky enough to travel to DC, I have seen the affectiveness of well organized actions. Now, I am back in the Midwest ( I grew up in IN and went to IU), andI have become a local coordinator. Let me tell you, it has been difficult. There have been several meetings where it is just me and 1 other person, or just me and my boyfriend at an action. There are so many times I just want to give up and do my own activism...go to DC when I want--participate in something bigger. Why do I bother with people who won't even take time to show up?? Well, your article that I read this morning is just what I needed. People here need to know that they can make a differance and being a part of something bigger might be in your own backyard!! I am going to keep working on a local level to get people involved in Code Pink actions, and also letting them know how awesome Code Pink is on a national level. They too can go to DC!!!

Thank you for your inspiration when I really needed some....

Code Pink louisville