by Kit Kimberly
A Code Pinker came yesterday from Lynchburg to stay in the house and go to her arraignment for her arrest in the Mother's Day events. Because of several miscommunications—mostly from Greyhound bus and Union Station employees—I missed picking her up at the station and she had to make her own way to the house. This was difficult because she is sight-impaired (which she did not tell me when I offered to pick her up) and, she told us, having a deaf taxi driver didn't help!
Constance is an amazingly competent young woman and very "switched on" (as my Australian friends would say) to a broad, long-term peace agenda. She also happens to be black (we had a discussion, as I have had with one of my oldest friends who also happens to be black, about African-American, and they agree that while it's a lovely, dignified, culturally accurate label, they're just as happy being called black).
We and Pinkers Desiree, Ena (new intern) and Corby (short-term from California, here for Gonzales actions) attended a wonderful networking meeting last night, organized by OneWorld.net (http://us.oneworld.net/section/us/networking/dc). In addition to meeting members of other nonprofits and NGOs and learning about their work in order to provide mutual support and build coalitions, the gathering also hosted a presentation of the newly released Global Peace Index. It ranks nations as to their progress towards peace based on 24 indicators that fall into three categories: Measures of ongoing domestic and international conflict; measures of safety and security in countries; and measures of militarization. According to the Peace Index, the USA ranks 96, only one position above Iran, and far below Bosnia, Serbia, Cuba, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia. This ranking merely exaggerates the irony of the US forcing democracy on any society, let alone the one we threw into anarchist chaos and civil war. If fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity, isn't using the military to enforce democracy like rape?
After some highly productive networking, we went to hear Iraq Veterans talking about their experiences and their suggestions for the peace movement. Facilitated by Rev. Yearwood of the HipHop Caucus. Participants included Tassi McKee, Appeal for Redress; Adam Kokesh, IVAW; Geoff Millard, IVAW; and Nate Wildermuth, Conscientious Objector. Each gave her or his personal story with the military and how they joined the peace movement, then Rev. Yearwood put forth a series of questions that they tried to answer: Where are we with the peace movement? What's next? How successful are we? What can we do to make it more effective? The Reverend then asked for a show of hands as to how we, the audience felt about the movement: Did we feel that we are 1) Where we want to be with the movement? 2) About halfway to where we want to be? or 3) Nowhere near where we want to be. I was depressed to see that only one person thinks we are where we want to be; fewer than half feel that we're halfway there; and the majority think that we're not even close. I find this sort of negativity to be unproductive and, if not kept in check, can lead to burnout; I've written about this on my personal blog at http://www.femifesta.blogspot.com/.
At the preceding networking meeting, there was a lot of hope and optimism, a feeling that the movement not just to stop the war (and, as Constance pointed out, an anti-war movement is not the same as a peace movement) but also to create a more just world, is on its way. Obviously, it's essential to have people who are completely dedicated to stopping the occupation and bringing the troops home; but I see those with such a single-minded pursuit—to which every setback or non-victory is devastating—get more depressed every day. Part of the reason I love Code Pink is because of the beauty and the joy and, to a certain extent, the absurdity and surrealism we bring to the movement. Human endeavor is often so ridiculous, if you can't laugh, you'll despair. So I take this moment to remind people to look for the good, celebrate the positive—the solidarity, the beauty, the joy of getting to know so many amazing people and the privilege of getting to work with them. To paraphrase Emma Goldman, if you can't dance, what's the point of the revolution? Every day you are active and in cooperation with others—not just physically, that you know and see and touch, but also around the globe, thanks to technology—is a day to celebrate. As Arundhati Roy says, "We be many, and they be few."