Saturday, May 26, 2012

NATO Part 2

I've had a few days to reflect on the events of Sunday and to take in the reactions of other observers. I've been browsing Facebook, you tube, newspapers and the mainstream media looking at pictures, videos and reading snippets of other peoples experiences at the NATO protest. I checked out the mainstream media interpretation not because I am a glutton for punishment, but because I tend to forget that large segments of the US population does not see the world through my Aquarian Flower Child eyes and that for many of those people the news is 'reality'. If I am to put myself in a position to challenge another persons beliefs about reality I have to understand the nature of that perception. Even if it pisses me off.
The most significant development of this event is that we have turned our focus on the the most heinous arm of the self perpetuating machine of economic injustice and false democracy that has been the target of our resistance since day one. We have finally taken on the Beast that is War.
The Occupy message has always targeted economic injustice including the misuse of money and power in destroying democracy. Our focus has been directed toward Wall street, banks, investment firms and the politicians who are beholden to them. But we have overlooked the connection between all these entities and the Military Industrial Complex, the machine of Imperialism.
In Chicago, we finally stood up to it, took it on, we called it out and (pardon the expression, bitch slapped it) We exposed it's most brutal and unthinkable atrocities, raw and uncensored in the light of day before an audience of thousands. I say we in a collective sense, but the real credit goes to the Soldiers, Marines, and other service men and women who courageously told their stories, opened their emotional wounds and apologized to the victims of the crimes committed in the name of "national security". I can't imagine the strength it took for these men and women to speak out and to reject the symbols of what was once, in their world, symbols of courage, honor and achievement. They now see those symbols for what they are; empty tokens meant to pacify those whose lives are being destroyed so that the ruling elite can maintain their false sense of security and superiority in the global community.
And then there were the Women. Afghan Women. Refugees, children of refugees, survivors of unimaginable acts of violence and terror. They stood on the same stage with the troops...and they forgave them. It was the most incredibly emotional, transcendent moment of restorative justice many of us will ever witness. It was living proof that the power of love and redemption is stronger than money, or weapons or hate.
And it was completely ignored by the majority of the media. Even the independent "liberal" media was more focused on the protesters and of course the clashes with the police. The sources that did cover this incredibly moving climax to the day long event recorded the troops, but the women were barely given mention.
Can you imagine having your home invaded in the middle of the night, your parents raped and beaten, children murdered and you surviving, carrying those memories with you for the rest of your life? Now imagine telling your story to thousands of strangers in the midst of the country that perpetrated those crimes, not ten feet away from men who had played a role in that kind of carnage...and forgiving them?
I beg you to please, step away from the computer a moment and picture this. Picture your family, yourself, if you can ( because how can we, really?) in these circumstances. Holding within you the horror that will never, ever leave you.
That is war. That is war every day. For over a decade that has been happening every day to people in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That is the real enemy. It is the sociopathic mentality that underlies every act of selfish greed that is perpetuated by everyone from lying bankers to cheating politicians. It is embedded in our culture.
 So what is the solution? How can there be any hope for a Nation so steeped in greed and arrogance?  I believe that what took place on that stage between the former oppressors and victims, contains the elements to a the solution, or at least the beginning. It is up to us to share these stories, second hand it's easier for us, but no less powerful. The Human Connection, the raw honesty of experience and emotion, even terror and rage, is the only chance we have for survival.
 Please, watch the videos. Read the stories. Listen to the experiences of Veterans and Survivors. Their truth is our truth. Their blood is on our hands for all the years we have remained complacent.
We must no longer choose silence. We must no longer allow crimes against humanity to be inflicted upon innocent civilians in our name. We owe it to those who have lost everything to honor their memory by telling their stories.
Here are a couple of links to get started. As always feedback, stories and links are welcome!

Monday, May 21, 2012

NATO Part One~The Next Generation

It is 12:30 a.m., I am  physically exhausted after a day of marching, chanting, and singing in the heat and sunshine surrounded by the intense energy of the NATO protest in Chicago. My mind, however, is alight with images and thoughts as I have poured through the reports I've seen on the news and social networking sites. I feel the need to recount my experience while its fresh in my minds eye.
There are so many things I feel I need to say. There are powerful emotions and moments that evoked them that I must share.
Before I indulge in a point-counter-point dialogue in response to some of the rumors I've been hearing (including the "news" reports) I have to share one of the personal highlights of Flower Child Grandma's day out with my 11 year old granddaughter, Alita.
 Today was a rite of passage for Alita. Protests and rallies are familiar territory for  her and her sister Jenna. In the early days of the war in Iraq Alita was with us as we protested. In a baby carrier or stroller , like most of our family, she made her debut into the community of activists.
Last year while I joined thousands in Madison Wisconsin in the dead of winter, the girls stayed behind; not quite old enough to tolerate long hours of nasty weather miles away from home. But now, after nearly of year of cutting her teeth on smaller local Occupy events, the time seemed right and she accepted my invitation with enthusiasm. A visit to Chicago, other than school field trips, was a new opportunity for Alita. For me Chicago holds many childhood memories, my first experiences with a Big City and a place where I was treated to special trips with my own Grandmother. I was as excited about this trip as Alita was and looking forward to another generation of bonding in the Windy City. My bonding with Grandma took place over treats at Woolworths, in and out of shops and long walks down noisy, dusty streets and the wonder of buildings so tall they made me dizzy. Alita's was similar yet, let's say, a bit more edgy.
Today it became evident that Alita really 'gets it'; the spirit and technique of non-violent resistance and freedom of expression. When we passed a particularly icy row of  state troopers, clad in Robocop riot gear, batons in hand, she confidently raised her hand in a peace sign, shot a smile and chanted clearly "I don't see a riot here, why you wearing riot gear?". There was no contempt or defiance in her approach, only rational direct confrontation, with a touch of innocence. For a moment I tensed, ready to intervene. Was this bright and beautiful girl going to become the next poster child for callous authoritarian posturing? (like the screaming pepper spray victims of last fall). In the same way we we let go of that gentle support as a child finds their balance on their first two wheeler bike I stood by watching with pride as she balanced and coasted, testing her voice and finding her power. Another Flower Child blossoms.

I will be back with more of the NATO protest, but on that note I'm off to sweet dreams of a better world that may very well come to be.