Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Peace: The Medium AND the Message

Kit Kimberly

The Pink House is awash with activity at the moment as we prepare to meet with Senator Joe Lieberman tomorrow (Thursday) to confront him on his comments that “we’ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians …”. CODEPINK member Leslie Angeline has been on a hunger strike since Sunday in reaction to his statement. Leslie recently returned from a Citizen Diplomacy visit to Iran, where she met dozens of Iranians and was particularly touched by their kindness and warmth. Seventy percent of the Iranian population is under the age of 30—the same age as her son.

In the Peace Room, Liz and Mila prepare pink body banners that read, “Iranians are our Sisters” and “Peace Talks, not War Hawks”. Desiree paints a frame to hold one of Leslie’s photos of the beautiful Iranian children and families that she met while there. Phillip researches presidential candidates’ statements on military action against Iran. Medea, Rae and Ena network with media and other peace groups to bring attention to tomorrow’s meeting.

It’s amazing how, once we have a plan, CODEPINK goes into immediate overdrive. Over dinner we discussed our plan for tomorrow—who will meet with the Senator; who will be outside in the halls liaising with media and the Capitol Police; alternatives in case the Senator doesn’t show, or doesn’t listen; who will get arrested and how. Our message and the medium through which we deliver it will be all about peace. Pat, who was involved with the Vietnam anti-war movement, points out that our peace movement has a very different tone than that one.

“It was testosterone-filled—very militant,” she says. After having spent a couple of days on the Hill with CODEPINK, she’s impressed by the difference in our tactics. I, too, love the almost Southern-gentility of our approach. First of all, pink is such a warm, healing, non-threatening color—on my first day in the halls of Congress, I saw the affect that it has: People smile and seem welcoming, whatever their particular stand on the issue. As Pat notes, Medea (and Gael, until she got banned from the Hill) are always engaging, pleasant—assertive, but clearly there to open and maintain dialogue, not to set up untenable positions. It’s a style that wins more friends than makes enemies, and it’s one that I and my Pink Sisters all learn to emulate.

How much more successful, I can’t help thinking, would US foreign relations be if we used the same level of diplomacy—rather than bullying and violence—to achieve our goals. I, like many others, believe that many of those now targeted as US “enemies” have legitimate grievances against this country. But as my grandma used to say, you catch a lot more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Why is it that, with so much military and economic might, the US can’t use its power for good? Why are we still building, selling and using weapons of mass destruction (oh, those WMDs—they’re not hard to find right here at home) when that money could go toward assisting, healing, educating and encouraging people all over the world to develop their own prosperous, peaceful cultures? When the US uses its military might to try to force nations to do what we want, those nations naturally get their backs up—no matter what it is we might want.

So I hope that the generosity and joy and devotion and dedication through which CODEPINK conducts its campaign for peace will begin to disperse throughout the entire political and diplomatic community—not only to end the war in Iraq and stop one in Iran, but also to bring about peace, justice and goodwill throughout the world, for now and for the future of the Iranian, Iraqi, Afghani, Sudanese, Albanian, Chechnyan, and all the other children who will one day inherit these conflicts and concerns. What better gift can we give our children—in a global society, these are ALL our children, they are the world’s children—than the tools through which to bring about peaceful, joyful change?


JimPreston said...

Yes indeed, sister, we do love peaceful and JOYFUL change !! Will you dance with me at the revolution?

Tara said...

If you want to read a book about how you can begin the process of making change I would recommend Melinda Gelder's "Meeting the Enemy, Becoming a Friend." She helped change the military institution no less!