DC protest doesnŐt work for me
By Mike Gordon
I don't go to protests all that often these days. Part of growing up is not necessarily losing interest in what was once fascinated to you. Rather, it's just simply not having the time and energy to do it any more. But this past weekend I decided to make time and find energy to do something that used to really be important to me. That's why I made it a point to hit the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) peace rally in Washington DC, on September 15th.
When most people talk about the peace rally they attended they first want to impress upon you how dopey, short-sighted and hawkish the president or the congress is for getting us into this mess. Secondly they want to let you know how wise, peaceful and compassionate they are. Finally, they want to let you know that their opponents are just as dopey, short-sighted and hawkish as the president or the congress they support.
I'm not a behavioral scientist, and Gods know I am no strategist, but it seems to me that convincing someone to come over to my side in an argument ought involve more than screaming/spitting on them and letting them know you think they are just as dopey, short-sighted and hawkish as the president they support.
The march in Washington was quite the letdown in some ways – not because we peace-niks failed to gather the support of 100,000 marchers and stop the war in a single afternoon. No it was a letdown because in too many cases we failed to show our opponents the same peaceful spirit we demanded they show the Iraqis and others.
In short, many of us as peace marchers were guilty of acting like the very shouting, angry folks we confronted between the the White House and the Capital on September 15th. In spirit we reflected what we disliked in them and then we were so clueless as to wonder why they were not convinced by us, a better people.
You can give anyone Biblical admonitions about loving others, sacrifice and turning other cheek. But in the end, Gods are Gods and men are men and each acts according to their nature. People can only be people and asking them "WWJD?" can only improve them so far.
This is especially so when you yourself are so aggressive and confrontational that you're pissing off the very people you are trying to convince.
Watching my cohorts and fellow marchers the other day I couldn't help but be saddened by the lack of compassion and understanding for our opponents. Maybe if "WWJD?" is too much to ask perhaps it would be more helpful for all of us to remember another more human character, one who helped my generation learn about about civility and understanding and kindness. Maybe a more fitting and achievable question might be "WWAGD?" - What Would Andy Griffith Do?
Hey, it sounds stupid, but at least it's a move in the right direction.
Mike Gordon spends his spare time taking pictures of all-too-many things. For a selection of pictures from the weekend's peace march visit <http://piczilla.blogspot.com/2007/09/dc-protest-pictures-are-finally-up.html> http://piczilla.blogspot.com/2007/09/dc-protest-pictures-are-finally-up.html