Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A quick note on this weekend

A number of you will be participating in activities this weekend. Some are traveling to do so, some will be making yourself heard in your own area.

I doubt the community needs to hear this but I'm tired and it's something I kept hearing in conversations today. So pass it on to anyone who participates with you but it's not directed at the community.

This person's too radical. This person isn't really left.

If someone's standing up and being counted this week, that's important and it counts. You don't have to be friends with everyone, you don't have to speak to everyone (or anyone).

But, and this is something that irks the community (and me), we're seeing a movement really take hold but there are people who want to play gatekeepers and say, "Oh well these types shouldn't be here." Let's not have a purity parade.

America is a diverse country. With diverse views. (Though you'd never know it from the mainstream.) You can't p.r. a movement. A movement is a wave, you ride it, it carries you along. I heard one person today put down "the Berkeley types" and another person put down the "uptight crowd." If you're opposed to the war and standing up this weekend, you're part of the movement.

You are America in all it's many shades, colors, core beliefs.

You are taking part in democracy at its most fundamental. So (although I doubt this is true of the community) if there's a moment where you're recoiling, remember that everyone there does not have to sing in key with you on every chorus. These are peaceful, democratic demonstrations. If you see someone so out of your own idea or notion, take a moment to be glad that we are such a varied country with so many voices and that on this issue we can all come together to say "No more."

If reporters actually show for any event you attend, don't let them draw lines. Be respectful of the people who are participating with you. It's just as easy to say, "Isn't that great that we're hearing so much freedom of expression" as it is to say, "They're f**king nuts!" A lot of people will be nervous. Cedric said it was okay to note that March was the first mass protest he'd ever participated in and he was nervous. We all love Cedric and know he's a great guy. Maybe if we were standing next to him and he was fidgeting because he was nervous, our attenas might go up.

The larger message is STOP THE WAR. If there are smaller messages (and there will be in many places), you don't have to agree. You can listen. If some reporter tries to press you on it, you can say, "I didn't agree with that but isn't it a great country that allows so much diversity of opinion."

From one friend at a paper (not the New York Times), I've been told that their reporter is going to attempt to do a "look at the freaks" report. Try to avoid feeding people like that the kind of quote that they so desire which would read like, "Even people attending the rally expressed their strong disgust over ____."

Cindy Sheehan was a spark. She got the country talking. Let's honor the conversation that's begun by honoring our differences and not providing people with the means to dismiss the larger message.

And remember that this community exists on the belief that there is not one voice. That what speaks to Liang may not speak to Krista or what speaks to Brady may not speak to KeShawn.
So if someone's speaking at an event and they bring up an issue that you feel is a sidebar, just let it slide. The point is to come together on the larger message.

There are a number of people who hope the rallies don't go off well. Who hope we'll boo one another and trash one another to the press. If you're going with friends and/or family, please try to make sure that they don't feed into that.

You don't want to be like ___ (a community non-favorite) who insults the puppets and considers them nonsense. Some people respond to puppets. Some people respond to ___ or ___. It's a movement and no one can stand on the sidelines yelling "No! No! No!" to whatever topic they don't like or don't feel needs addressing at this point.

The people you'll be next to are there because they believe the war is wrong (except for infiltrators and expect a few of those). That's the bigger picture we all share. (And "we" includes some Republicans.) So let's celebrate our diverisity of speech and thought this weekend by not picking apart one another.

An ad campaign is a select few controlling the message. (That can be true of mainstream reporting as well.) A movement goes beyond one person or one group of people. If the war is going to be ended and the troops brought home, we're going to need a lot of voices so resist the temptation to play gatekeeper because you think someone's poorly dressed or over dressed. If something really causes your eyes to bulge, just remind yourself, you've got a story to tell in your old age. (Or another one to tell if you're already in your old age.)

The larger message this weekend is about people coming together to say no to the war. Don't get bogged down in a smaller message or your perception of someone based on their appearance.

(Yes, Gina, this could qualify for an Oprah moment; however, I'm very tired and it was this or a link-fest and we already had a link-fest in the previous post. Plus, I was surprised to hear some of the comments I heard throughout the day. Heard, not read. These were from people I was face to face with.)

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