html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: What goes in between?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What goes in between?

I didn’t protest invading Iraq, and I was wrong. I want to protest against a war against Iran. But I don’t know how. Far as I can tell, here’s what you do, in order of effort and maybe also effectiveness.

Blog about your feelings.
Email your representative and the president.
Call your representative and the president
Write a paper letter to your representative and the president.
Write a letter to the editor of your paper.
Lend verbal support to groups protesting against war.
Give money to groups protesting against war.

Then, what? There’s a big gap and you have to leave the comfort of your living room.

Stand on the street corner with the peace activist-types holding a sign during commute.
Go to larger protests in your city.
Go to large protests in another city.

And then, what?

I don’t know what to do in the middle. And I wonder, what would it take to make me go stand out on the street corner with the activists? I mean, I am really opposed to starting a war against Iran. A war announcement against Iran would get me out on the streets*, but that is too late. People tell me not to bother standing on street corners, ‘cause it doesn’t work, but maybe there is a turning point, where enough not-radical people decide that they simply have to make some demonstration, even a pointless demonstration, that we oppose what our government is doing. Maybe people who are ashamed they didn’t speak up last time should decide to stand where the people opposing war stand, so my body and presence tells my city how I feel.

*What would I do on the streets? Wander out of my house to a busy intersection, hold up a sign and cry? Go to a park? Would other people know to go to the same park? Would they watch it on TV instead, until they were tired and discouraged enough to go to bed?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think one of the biggest issues I have with going to protests is you're lumped in with all the wackos. The point of the protest gets lost to all of the different groups and individuals that are there for their own various reasons.

If it were a group of people that could speak rationally about why they're there and what they hope to accomplish, it would be a different story. But most of the protests I've seen that are large enough to get any attention have compromised the goal of the protest for the sake of having enough numbers to get attention.

Some ideas for the "in between": print up leaflets or fliers, or organize small groups that meet to brainstorm other options. That's how the founders of the country got started. Write, call, or visit your state and local representatives; they are typically more accessible than your representation in DC. Our country used to operate under the premise that states could lobby the federal government more effectively than individuals, specifically because the state representatives were more accessible. They have to work for your vote just as much as the bums in DC, perhaps even more so, since the pool of potential voters is that much smaller and that much more involved.


7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sacramento Peace Action seems to be devoting most of its efforts to lately to picketing Doris Matsui. Doris Matsui! Come on!

I don't know what to do either.


11:01 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

I'm with the first commentor, I think that you can do more on the local level for that big gap. Try to get your friends involved, I've been to many anti-iraq war protests and although I know that many of my friends support the ideas in principle not many of them come with me. I'm sure that I could have tried harder to show them the utility in such actions.

Getting your friends to do those first "easy" things, or starting a local group of like minded individuals would seem to have a high level of efficacy and still be achieveable for someone as motivated and social as yourself.

6:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Write a paper letter to your representative and president"

Replace president with Senator, and you have the single most effective thing an average citizen can do to effect any policy.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaarggh! The above comment is by me, Thelonious_Nick.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And then, what?"

Assassination politics.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing that down. That's been rattling around in my head for years. What the hell can any individual do that would make a difference??? I've settled for positive thoughts (like praying). I can physically warm up my feet just by focussing my mind on them, so I figure the same principle can apply to devoting mental anonymous energy to supporting peace.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Go to law school, and become a politician.

2) Make a ton of money, and buy politicians.

3) Interupt your parties with an *extremely* thoughtful and tastefully done presentation.

Given the sums of money I hear thrown around these days, I suspect #2 is most likely to be successful.


1:35 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

Mith, I agree with the dilution of purpose, but I don't think that matters. When I marched against the war in Iraq along with 1 million other people I was surrounded by wackos, but the papers just reported that we were marching against the war, not Israel, or capitalism, or whatever other fringe group were present.

It's the nature of democracy that you don't get what you want. I think you have accept that you often aren't going to be listened to, but at the same time you have a responsibility to make your voice heard. Just don't sacrifice your life to the unfulfilling pursuit of activism.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

on an up note: for the first time in a very, very long time (maybe ever), there are several Republican and Democratic Presidential Candidates that I like. And I want both parties to put someone good forth, it helps our country be its best. Maybe things are looking up in 2008. I hope I'm not speaking too soon, but the next vote could be very cool. Voting is subtle, but it's a huge part of what goes in between when the people up for office are worthwhile.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stood on a street corner to protest the war. Had the same semi-skeptical feelings, "and then what..." Realized that we are reminding people that this is going on while they go about their daily commute on their way home to or from work. WE put the thought in their head and hopefully they think about it on their way home and then perhaps they may even go so far as to see what they can do!! Doing something is better than doing nothing!!
Spread the love AND peace! Megan, you shouldn't even have to think about it.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thirty seven years ago I hit the streets with all kinds of people in the crowds with the overarching purpose of stopping the war. Were we used by some of the admittedly communist leaders of some of the demonstrations ? We obviously were , but the end justified the means. The war ended !

1:55 PM  

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