Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Even In The Dark... Hope ~ Peace

THERE ARE PROBABILITIES and likelihoods, but there are no guarantees. Rebecca Solnit writes in her commentary: Acts of Hope: Challenging Empire on the World Stage [click here] a sobering representation of the new challenges of activism. [It], says Solnit,"is not a journey to the corner store; it is a plunge into the dark." She points out it is more like weather, not like a game of checkers that at some point will end. The weather goes on... you don't declare a winner and a loser, fold up the board and put it on a shelf.

For Solnit it is easy to see how a lot of the antiwar movement has done that in the wake of our second Iraq war. All the energy that was successfully generated in opposition, yet there was still war. It is only natural to look at it as a contest that ended with a winner and a loser. But that view ignores the larger or global picture. It is like weather... tomorrow the issue is still there... maybe not even in Iraq. Maybe someplace else.

Still, Solnit has looked for and found a silver lining in many of the events of the past couple of years. I found this particular assessment interesting food for thought:

We achieved a global movement without leaders. There were many brilliant
spokespeople, theorists and organizers, but when your fate rests on your leader,
you are only as strong, as incorruptible, and as creative as he -- or,
occasionally, she -- is. What could be more democratic than millions of people
who, via the grapevine, the Internet, and various groups from churches to unions
to direct-action affinity groups, can organize themselves? Of course leaderless
actions and movements have been organized for the past couple of decades, but
never on such a grand scale. The African writer Laurens Van Der Post once said
that no great new leaders were emerging because it was time for us to cease to
be followers. Perhaps we have.

If groping around in the dark is scary for some, Rebecca Solnit thinks it is a bonus for the cause of peace activism. I can see her point. After all, the Bush administration has already pushed the envelope in many areas, including a first-strike military action and questionable mis-statement of intelligence information. Knowing the level to which this administration is willing to operate, and the precedence it has established, give rise to more uncertainty and that should strengthen the resolve of millions to demand more accountability.

In a bit of self-serving pat on the back, I like that she acknowledged the contribution poets have made to the cause:

"American poets became an antiwar movement themselves when Sam Hamill declined an invitation to Laura Bush's "Poetry and the American Voice" symposium shortly after her husband's administration announced their "Shock and Awe" plan, and he circulated his letter of outrage. His e-mail box filled up, he started, to which about 11,000 poets have submitted poems to date. Hamill became a major spokesperson against the war and his website has become an organizing tool for the peace movement."

Even in these dark times... here's to reason, hope and peace.

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