WE NEED TO STRETCH OURSELVES
Each Friday at 5:30 pm Peace Works holds a vigil on the green of the town center. This has been going on non-stop each week since 9-11. Usually about 10 people show up. Tonight we had 20 there as a large group of students from nearby Bowdoin College joined us in the cold wet snow that began to fall just as were arrived. Since I moved to Brunswick two years ago I have made the observation that the worse the weather is, the more people come out to the vigil. Mainers are hearty folks.
We usually get a pretty good response from people, lots of honks and waves. One man and woman walking on the other side of the street hollered over to us that if they had a horn they would honk. But not everyone is happy about the vigil. We have a Naval air base in town and many of the military personnel drive by and either stare straight ahead or give us the middle finger in disapproval. Tonight one woman screamed at us "Move to another country" as she roared by. It's funny how the most ardent supporters of the "war for freedom" don't seem to support the notion of exercising our rights back here in the good ole USA.
It's hard for me to figure out. Do some people really not understand that "freedom" means us too? Or are they just so invested in the war machine that they have to strike back even if they realize what they are saying makes no sense?
This is the question that I really struggled with while I was in the Air Force during the Vietnam war. There were frequently protests against the war at my California base. The military brass would tell us GI's to stay away from the front gate on the weekends. They'd tell us that the Office of Secret Investigation (OSI) would be out there taking pictures and if any of us were caught attending the protest we'd be in big trouble. It made me wonder. The U.S. is in Vietnam for freedom and liberty but I can't go out to the front gate, off the base, and watch a protest. Those threats helped turn me toward the peace movement.
So it is the little things we do that change people I think. Some of those Navy guys driving by tonight, trying to act like they were not seeing us, will spend the evening talking with each other about the war and those damn peaceniks. One or two of them will express a shred of doubt about the war and a big debate will ensue. Some hearts will be changed. This is one way we turn America back toward sanity. It's the little things we do each day. We need to keep stretching ourselves a bit more in times like these. What else can we do to help create more public visability and debate?