I can not help but think that the real reason Bush wants us all to buy duct
tape is in the hope that we will put it over our mouths and be silent. Thus, this
is the day I knew I must speak out. This day, when millions all over the world
are marching for peace. We may not all be able to protest in the streets, but
we must say our truth in whatever way we are able. We who have had enough of war,
enough of pictures beamed back from one carnage or another of maimed and bloodied
men, women, and children. Enough of smart bombs and confused bombardiers making
tragic mistakes. Enough of good guys that turn out to be bad guys, and vice versa.
And nothing gets fixed. The last military foray we entered into had the reluctant
support of our allies. They tried to help us, following September 11th. But here
we are a year and a half later and it appears nothing has changed. Osama bin Laden
is still "out there somewhere", the warlords are still in control of Afghanistan,
and the Taliban have not gone away.
The worldıs leaders concur that Saddam is not a nice man. In fact he is probably
a megalomaniac, if reports are true. We may presently be playing an irksome cat
and mouse game with him, but every child who has watched Tom and Jerry knows that
if the cat pursues the mouse with big guns, they are likely to backfire. And meanwhile
the mouse has slipped away. To millions of Iraqis we are the big hungry cat. We
hold in our grasp millions who are too hungry even to flee, as we nip at their
tails, paw and bat them with threats and hover over them with armaments.
Remember the foreboding we felt when the Washington sniper was on the loose
for a few weeks? I think how it must feel to live under that sense of helplessness
for months, the threat multiplied by thousands, led by an entity that appears
to be as much of a loose canon, though it calls itself a government.
While the administration huddles behind carpeted, quadruple-thick reinforced
walls, snug and secure in knowing that bomb-proof escape tunnels will carry them
away from harm, the rest of us are invited to buy plastic and duct tape! While
Bush and his cohorts are playing with their own weapons of mass destruction, the
rest of us are sitting ducks.
But perhaps we should thank him! We should count ourselves fortunate when times
demand we stand up and be counted. Love is not passive, an idea behind many world
religions. Iıve just watched the incredible sight of millions around the globe
protesting in the streets. This must be the first time in history that the desire
for peace has shown itself with such force, and before a shot has been fired.
We are not buying the lines that our governments are feeding us. Almost half of
those poled by CBS and the New York Times reject going to war if there are many
deaths of our soldiers. Even more remarkable is that almost the same number reject
going to war if a significant number of civilian Iraqis die. Never before has
the world displayed such a distaste for fighting, in recognition of our common
humanity. The shout of "no war" girdles the globe in a plea for life, and for
freedom. Not the freedom of George W. Bush, the freedom to bully those less fortunate,
to use might to intimidate and impose oneıs will through force. No, this is the
freedom of people to stand up to power and forge their own way. This was our message
to the world, not so long ago.
It is evident that there continues to be those who mean to cause us harm. But
might we not wonder about this? Might we not attempt to understand and make a
start to remedy the root causes? But besting these haters in their game of terror
is no solution. Many nations stood shoulder to shoulder with us after September
11th, ready to be our partner in ridding the world of terrorists. Bush has cynically
used that sentiment to his own ends.
Such an enormous sea change is needed, but we can make a start, using some
of the millions and billions of dollars that this war would cost to help nations
caught in the grip of poverty, confusion, and resentment. We can help them in
a way that respects their sovereignty while recognizing their, and our, citizenship
in the global community. This is the three-dimensional reality that makes up the
real world, not the myopic world vision sprung from a "for us or against us" mentality.
So millions march to a vision Bush seems unable to see. The old games are up.
The Lennon song "Imagine" goes, "I hope someday you can join us and the world
will live as one." It seems the world is saying with one voice, that day is come.
Arlene Distler is a Brattleboro, Vermont writer and community organizer.