Just Say Peace
Local activists mourn 9.11 and its aftermath.
Thursday, September 5, 2002
Photo by Randy Tunnell.
The fighting words from Washington don''t stop. But while our Commander-in-Chief uses Sept. 11 as his battle cry to invade Iraq, local activists have a different type of pep rally in mind.
"September 11 was a very sad, human event," says Courtney Childs. "And in this country, we didn''t get to grieve it. We were channeled straight into war. It''s the old, cover emotion of getting angry and getting even instead of feeling the deep hurt.
"I really see this as a new beginning. We really need to take charge and make this world a safer place, not a world filled with perpetual war."
Childs is one of the organizers of Monterey''s Peace Jubilee 2002, a peace fair of sorts on Sept. 8. Speakers, slam poetry and world music will entertain all day. Global Exchange co-founder Kevin Danaher, who''s also the author of Elite Globalization vs. Democratic Globalization will give the keynote address at 4pm. Nonprofit groups and local business will offer everything from face painting and international foods to postcards to be sent to President Bush that say "No War with Iraq."
"Unfortunately," says fellow organizer and Peace Corps volunteer Celia Bosworth, "peace is complex. But we all need to take strides towards that. Here we are, a year later, and unfortunately I don''t feel any closer to peace than I did on that day last year."
Similar peace events are planned for New York, Boston, San Francisco and hundreds of other big cities and tiny towns across the U.S. They range from candlelight vigils to concerts and peace festivals.
"There are enormous amounts of people out there who want us to be a peaceful neighbor instead of a bullying superpower," says Valori George, co-chair of the Peace Coalition of Monterey County.
The Peace Coalition is an umbrella group for more than a dozen Monterey County anti-war organizations.
"The Vietnam War-it ended because it was too unpopular," George says. "That can be true now. All it takes if people saying no to things they don''t want done in their name."
George is a driving force behind the Jubilee. The idea for a peace fair came out of the Coalition''s silent Sunday protests at Windows on the Bay, where George and others hold signs saying "End the Violence," and "No to War."
"And usually, during our vigils, we''re brainstorming ideas," George says.
And then they got wind of United for Peace, a coalition of peace and justice groups, including a group of family members who lost loved ones on September 11. Spearheaded by Global Exchange, United for Peace formed with the intent of promoting anti-violence events the week of 9/11. So the Monterey organizers sent off a letter to Global Exchange co-founder Kevin Danaher requesting that someone from Global Exchange speak at their Sept. 8 event. He will.
Danaher''s keynote is titled "Healing Our Communities, Healing Our Planet: Strategies and Tactics for Building a Democratic, Sustainable Economy."
While the local vigils started out in opposition to the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, they soon widened their focus as protesters brought signs protesting U.S. drug policy in Colombia, the Israeli occupation of Palestine and a potential war with Iraq.
Similarly, the Peace Jubilee 2002 will promote peace and human rights worldwide.
"There are all these amazing groups of people doing their own thing, and their own projects, and nobody knows about each other," George says.
And as the White House careens towards another war, here''s a chance to join with communities across the country and put on the brakes, Childs says.
"We lose sight that the people are the ones who actually have the power," he says. "If there was a concerted effort, the government would have to listen."
Immediately post-Sept. 11, Childs says, "I felt paralyzed, that there was this big war machine happening, and no opposition."
Then, about six months later, he heard similar voices joining his.
"I felt my own personal power talking to people," he says. "I finally had this sense of, ''Oh yeah, we can make a change in this world.''"
The Peace Jubilee 2002 will be held Sept. 8, from noon to 6pm at Scholze Park in front of the Monterey Senior Center, a the corner of Lighthouse and Dickman. For information on other peace events nationwide, visit www.unitedforpeace.org.