Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Putting The Peace Movement In Perspective

For those of you who wish to spend your time minimalizing, degrading and demoralizing the peace movement I have one thing to say to you. More power to you. I guess if my mind was saturated with shameless propaganda, manipulated into believing that hatred and violence were acceptable concepts to support, and shrouded in such fear that the idea of waging death and destruction on my fellow human beings was somehow a mature and appropriate means of conflict resolution, I too would have to find a way to belittle those who think differently than I. I would have to make them my opponents and attack their characters, motives and actions. How else could I live with myself and maintain my sanity?

I can't imagine how desperate I would become and to what measures I would have to stoop, if truth and human decency were absent from my thought process on a daily basis. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I supported a foreign policy that is destroying the lives and property of citizens of this world everyday in the name of freedom and democracy, and turned out to be based on a pack of lies perpetrated by war criminals who I endorsed and brought to power. I don't think that I could bear the shame.

And it couldn't be more clear how desperate and shameful the warmongers and their supporters have become then by their actions today in Washington DC. At this point they are so threatened by the peace movement that they felt the need to arrest one of it's greatest proponents, Cindy Sheehan. Her crime...being a grieving mother who had the audacity to demand an audience with her commander in chief. The nerve. How dare she. To think that she would be so bold as to attempt to hold accountable and demand answers from those responsible for the needless and senseless death of her precious child. Who does she think she is?

Well guess what? She is me and the millions upon millions of human beings on this planet who work for and believe in peace. Peace is not just the absence of violence. It is a way of life. It is a way of being. It is a way of coexisting on a planet filled with diverse cultures made up of unique human beings. It is understanding that we are all interconnected, that each human life is of value, and that no one race or country is superior to another or has the right to impose their way of thinking or way of life upon others, especially by force.

It is tolerance, it is accepting that which is different, it is being mature and responsible. It is treating others as we expect to be treated. It is conducting ourselves humanely, decently, morally and ethically. It is the only path to real freedom and security.

Yes, peace is the absence of violence, but it is also encompasses the belief in the dignity and value of all human beings and of our planet. And those of us who work for peace have the most powerful weapon at our disposal...righteousness. For those of you who wish to discredit the peace movement I wish you luck. History may eventually become the judge of our actions today, but the children of the world will ultimately become the benefactors of these actions tomorrow. And they will remember what each and every one of us has done to impact their destinies.

Tonight I stand before you as a proud member of the peace movement. As a mother standing in solidariy with Cindy Sheehan I dedicate my life's work to my children Reya and Dominic and to the memory of Casey and all the fallen heroes of this illegal and immoral war both here and in the Middle East.

As you lay awake tonight in the capital of the greatest democracy on earth, having committed no crime other than grieving for your beautiful little boy, I wish you comfort in your grief. Blessings and may peace be upon you, Cindy. REMEMBER...YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

In peace and solidarity,
Mary AlKhaja

Monday, September 19, 2005

National Day of Protest: Lompoc Action

As most of you may know, Saturday September 24, 2005 is a national day of protest both here and in the United Kingdom. The majority of Americans have had enough with the misguided foreign and domestic policies of the Bush Administration. This is our chance to show our elected officials that we are tired of our national treasure being wasted on an illegal war, money that should be going toward the protection of our own citizens in times of crisis and to the health and well being of all Americans.

If you are interested in participating in this action and cannot make it to San Francisco or Los Angeles we want you know that there will be a peace march and picnic here in Lompoc. We will be meeting at Centennial Park, located on H Street and Cypress Ave. at 10:30 AM. We will march along H Street and return to the park for a potluck picnic. Bring signs of peace and food or drink to share and join us for this peaceful demonstration.

Exercise your constitutional rights and become a participant in the democratic process. For more information please contact lompocpeace@yahoo.com or call 736-5459. Hope to see you on Saturday.

In peace,
Mary AlKhaja

Sunday, September 18, 2005

"A Prayer Band" by Palestinian poet Suheir Hammad on Hurricane Katrina

a prayer band


every thing

you ever paid for
you ever worked on
you ever received

every thing

you ever gave away
you ever held on to
you ever forgot about

every single thing is one
of every single thing and
all things are gone

every thing i can think to do
to say i feel
is buoyant

every thing is below water
every thing is eroding
every thing is hungry

there is no thing to eat
there is water every where
and there is no thing clean to drink

the children aren’t talking

the nurses have stopped believing
anyone is coming for us

the parish fire chief will never again tell anyone that help is coming

now is the time of rags
now is the indigo of loss
now is the need for cavalry

new orleans
i fell in love with your fine ass poor boys sweating frying
catfish blackened life thick women glossy seasoning
bourbon indians beads grit history of races
and losers who still won

new orleans
i dreamt of living lush within your shuttered eyes
a closet of yellow dresses a breeze on my neck
writing poems for do right men and a daughter of refugees

i have known of displacement
and the tides pulling every thing
that could not be carried within
and some of that too

a jamaican man sings
those who can afford to run will run
what about those who can’t
they will have to stay

end of the month tropical depression turned storm

someone whose beloved has drowned
knows what water can do
what water will do to once animated things

a new orleans man pleads
we have to steal from each other to eat
another gun in hand says we will protect what we have
what belongs to us

i have known of fleeing desperate
with children on hips in arms on backs
of house keys strung on necks
of water weighed shoes
disintegrated official papers
leases certificates births deaths taxes

i have known of high ways which lead nowhere
of aches in teeth in heads in hands tied

i have known of women raped by strangers by neighbors
of a hunger in human

i have known of promises to return
to where you come from
but first any bus going any where

tonight the tigris and the mississippi moan
for each other as sisters
full of unnatural things
flooded with predators and prayers

all language bankrupt

how long before hope begins to eat itself?
how many flags must be waved?
when does a man let go of his wife’s hand in order to hold his child?

who says this is not the america they know?

what america do they know?

were the poor people so poor they could not be seen?

were the black people so many they could not be counted?

this is not a charge
this is a conviction

if death levels us all
then life plays favorites

and life it seems is constructed
of budgets contracts deployments
of wards and automobiles of superstition and tourism
and gasoline but mostly insurance

and insurance it seems is only bought
and only with what cannot be carried within
and some of that too

a city of slave bricked streets
a city of chapel rooms
a city of saints

a crescent city

where will the jazz funeral be held?

when will the children talk?

tonight it is the dead
and dying who are left
and those who would rather not
promise themselves they will return

they will be there
after everything is gone
and when the saints come
marching like spring
to save us all

Friday, September 09, 2005

In Remembrance of 9-11-01

A group of us from the Lompoc Coalition for Peace and Justice will be going to Santa Barbara this Sunday to visit Arlington West. We were trying to think of a meaningful way to spend the anniversary of 9-11-01 and decided to take a group of high school students down to Santa Barbara to assist in setting up this memorial. With military recruiters on their high school campuses on a regular basis encouraging them to enlist into the armed forces, we thought it was important for them to see what could be the ultimate result of that decision. The only way our children can make a responsible choice is for them to see all sides of the equation. They certainly aren't seeing the whole picture in the mainstream media clearly demonstrated by the fact that our commander and chief has banned all photographs of flag draped coffins returning to the states. I guess out of sight is out of mind.

The Santa Barbara chapter of Veterans for Peace have been constructing this memorial every Sunday since November of 2003 to give their fellow citizens a visual reminder of the human costs of the "War on Terror". I was in Santa Barbara two weeks ago and stopped by Stearns Wharf. I was moved to tears more than once as I walked through the rows of crosses bearing the names of young American men and women who have lost their lives in this conflict. One of the biggest problems I see, and one of the main reasons why more people are not outraged by our current foreign policy, is that this war is not impacting average Americans in any significant way. This memorial reminds us of the real tragedy facing American families and bears witness to the senseless loss of life perpetrated by this administration. For any of you living on the Central Coast who have not yet visited this memorial to our fallen troops, I encourage you to drive down to Santa Barbara this Sunday and bear witness to the truth.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Worst Kind of Weapon You Can Imagine

As the catastrophic tragedy on the Mississippi Gulf Coast intensifies one can only ponder how this could possibly be happening in the United States of America. The greatest superpower on the planet, with the most technically advanced resources known to humankind at it’s disposal, could not quickly and efficiently evacuate the people affected by this disaster. Instead, our fellow Americans were left to starve and drown to death, while Bush and his cohorts wrapped up their summer vacations. How outrageous. How shameful.

It appears that the only thing this administration can lead us into is an illegal and immoral war of aggression. They certainly cannot lead us during a time of national crisis. And it is painfully obvious that in the first few days of this crisis there was no leadership on the national level, which ultimately led to the unnecessary demise of hundreds if not thousands of American citizens.

Unfortunately, I am so outraged these days that I am not really shocked by this latest atrocity. I am saddened, in fact sickened by it, but not shocked. Mr. Bush made a statement recently that what happened to the Mississippi Gulf Coast was the worst kind of weapon you can imagine. I beg to differ. The worst kind of weapon you can imagine is a superpower out of control.

It began when our government was hijacked by fanatics bent on world domination. It led to a policy of preemptive war which has drained our national treasury and taken the lives of tens of thousands of people worldwide. The death and destruction began in the oil rich Middle East but has now found it’s way back home to our soil. Now my fellow Americans are paying the price for this insanity with their lives.

When will we say enough? When will Americans wake up and realize that they are being used, manipulated, robbed and now murdered by the worst kind of weapon you can imagine? When will we reclaim our democracy, our decency and our humanity? We have no more time to wait.