Another guest editorial from Jayne Martin-Dressing
On Sunday, March 19th Cincinnati held an anti-War Peace Rally and March drawing a crowd of over 200 participants. I decided to take my two small children who are not strangers to organized demonstrations and who often walk around the house chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, George Bush has got to go.” Or my daughter’s favorite, “Ho, ho, hey, hey, George Bush has got to pay.”
I knew I was raising a lot of potential questions when my best friend from college came over to baby-sit on Saturday night with her art supplies and began making “No More Bloodshed” posters with my 6 year old. We’ve talked about the war quite a bit in my household, and I’ve had to do more explaining about bombs, racism, terrorism, and kidnapping to a kindergartner than I ever thought I would have to. Several times in the past few months I’ve had to switch off NPR when the stories came on about people blowing themselves up, and prisoners being bound and gagged. But I don’t think we should hide what’s happening in the world and how we are impacted by the nature of war.
The march was fabulous. It such an amazing feeling to be surrounded by like-minded people; all compassionate citizens who feel like I do, that our country is being seized by a handful of self-righteous, power hungry leaders who have sold us a pack of lies about why men, women and children are dying everyday in Iraq. The march coordinators spoke about human rights, about justice and about freedom. Organizers sang Vietnam era songs, and the crowed joined in on the chorus. I watched my daughter holding her sign that read, “Peace and Love” trying to mouth the words. It’s hard to believe in the year 2006 with all the progress we’ve made in technology, life-saving medical procedures, and incredible scientific discoveries that we still have to drop bombs on people to solve problems. What kind of message do we send to our children who we tell from toddler age on, “no hitting” and “be gentle?”
People in the crowd were kind, and strangers offered to help me pull my wagon with a two year old in tow. I saw familiar faces from past social justice demonstrations, and new worried faces of other young families and teenagers with their saggy jeans and pierced bodies. I saw young and old, black and white, Muslim, Christian, and Jew. I saw people called together to speak out against a mission for which they do not agree; about which they can no longer be silent. My daughter sounded out the words on the signs, “God loves Iraqi children too”, “Wage Peace”, “Get Out Now.”
I don’t think my kids understood most of what the speakers had to say, and they did get tired and grumpy mid-way through the march, but I do believe they felt as I felt the power of the people at that gathering. I hope that they got an idea of the kind of voice a small group of people can have when they stand together. I hope that felt inspired as I did that there are many people in this city, in this country, in this world, who care about what is happening to the reputation of the U.S. around the globe and who want to make a change. I hope I have taught them not to be complacent, but to stand up for what they believe in.
When we finally made our way back to the car hours later with jelly stained faces and freezing fingers, I ask my children, “What do we want?” “Peace,” they answered.