A LIFE ON THE STREETS
It seems like I've spent half my life standing on street corners holding protest signs. If you want to see and know America that is the place to be. People in their automobiles are living their "dream" of independence and upward mobility - at least that's what they've been conditioned to think.
Today seven of us stood for an hour in the breezy-cold under gray skies with snow lightly falling in front of the administration building at Bath Iron Works. We started at 11:30 am and at noon the shipyard horn blew and minutes later a steady stream of cars come flying out of the parking lots. Many of the workers drive over-sized pickup trucks, most of which are newer models attesting to the fact that the wages inside the yard are good enough to secure a heavy vehicle loan.
Most of the workers don't engage as they roll by. Now and then someone will awkwardly wave to us and we get a good number of the middle fingers. One women drove by today and shielded her face from us with her left hand.....she had an Army bumper sticker on her truck.....I wondered if she was a Christian fundamentalist who viewed us as the devil? My mind wanders in those minutes.
When I attend these kind of vigils I come to work so I usually stand by myself and concentrate on the faces that drive by. I want to make eye contact. If I'm going to stand in the cold then I want to make sure my sign gets read.
Maureen and George Kehoe-Ostensen organize these Lenten vigils and do the same during the Advent season. Week in and week out we gather to bring the disarmament and conversion message to the workers and the public.
At the end of the vigil we always stand in a circle. Maureen asks us to bring those suffering from wars into our circle and also to remember those who are in prison for protesting against war. She then invites us to bring other names into the circle.
This is my 10th year in Maine standing at these BIW vigils and today I thanked Maureen and George for their steady leadership that brings us all together. It's a meditation for me in many respects. It's a hard road to stand on but a meaningful way to spend a life.