Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ruth's Report

Ruth: As Joni Mitchell might sing today, "By the time we got to quagmire, there were half a million dead . . ." Iraqis and 2560 American troops dead.

What will end the war? Resistance and awareness so, with that mind, I was happy to grab Mike's idea of a weekly meeting to discuss the war the press still wants to portray as 'winnable.'
Originally, my group was meeting on Saturday but, due to the report going up on Saturday mornings and our own schedules, we are now meeting Fridays.

It's an interesting group of fourteen. (We are already starting to grow.) We are all grandparents (ten women, four men) but our families differ. (Religion wise, we are predominately Jewish.) Some, like mine, were universally opposed to the illegal war when it began. Others contain a mixture of sentiment and support then and now.

So you can see it as an attempt by some to get their own houses in order and by all as an attempt to provide support and ideas. Mainly, though, we are attempting to treat the war like a war and not, as Mike so wonderfully put it when critiquing so much of the press coverage, as an after thought. Like Mike and Cedric, I print up the Iraq snapshots to reference during the Friday meetings. I grab my yellow highlighter and color in various details I want to bring up.

In addition to those, this Friday I printed up copies of Andrea Lewis' "Pentagon cultivating culture of violence against women" (Salt Lake Tribune) and my notes from the discussion Ms. Lewis and Ruth Rosen had on Tuesday's KPFA's The Morning Show about Ms. Rosen's recent article, "The Hidden War on Women in Iraq." (We discussed Ms. Rosen's article in the previous week's meeting.)

Other topics brought up included CODEPINK's TROOPS HOME FAST! and there was some hesitation as to whether or not people our age should or could participate? I took part on the Fourth of this month as did my grandchildren Tracey and Jayson, plus two of my sons and three of my daughter-in-laws. I was able to address the questions of can you get through 24 hours? That was an issue, believe it or not. I think that is because some of the group is old enough to have lived through the tail end of the Great Depression and we were certainly all encouraged by our parents to "clean our plates" growing up with warnings of that and "children starving in China." Two group members are on medical diets and they will be consulting with their doctors to make sure they are medically able to participate in the one day fast we are planning to take part in August 3rd.

That is a Thursday and, as one woman explained, "If I do it, I'm going to be talking about the next day and will be phoning all of you" so that by the time the next Friday meeting rolled around, she was afraid she would have "talked it to death."

In the "Iraq snapshot" Friday, C.I. noted Hannah Charry's report (Hartford Advocate) on sixty-year-old John Woods taking part in a once a week fast every Friday. That went up after the morning meeting so I was not able to bring it into the discussion but I will next week. The group members have, largely, taken part in some form of activism in the past but none had ever fasted and, for my group, I really do believe it has to do with both concerns over our age and the lingering impressions from the Great Depression.

The idea of fasting excites them and there is support for it. Most wondered what their children would think of their one day fasts and what effect it would have on them?

March 1, 2006, on KPFA's Against the Grain, C.S. Soong interviewed conscientious objector Aidan Delgado who felt one area that the peace movement needed to move towards was more settings in smaller groups where people could communicate their ideas. In my group, I am finding that a lot of participants make statements to the effect of, "Saying I was against the war was all I was comfortable with offering." They are now going beyond that. It is offering a forum to test the waters and to explore.

People are strengthening their knowledge and I think we will all take that from the group and into other areas of our lives. I spoke to Mike about this last night before his own group started and he asked me if I remembered that he had mentioned community members Goldie and Marlene in his column for Polly's Brew? I had remembered that but Mike feels that their house parties on the war, which Rebecca has written about, have not received enough attention or credit so he asked that I note Goldie and her mother's work on bringing the issue into their lives and into their friends lives.

Whether you do it in a festive setting like Goldie and Marlene are doing or in a more cut and dry fashion, I hope you will consider starting a discussion group. The public opinion tide has turned with regards to the war. The bravery so many showed in opposing the war earlier no longer results in a lonely stance but to get the troops home will require more than just saying, "I am opposed to the illegal war." It will require that we bring it into our daily lives.

Lorraine talked about how she now reads the scant coverage not only to be informed but also looking for something she can bring into our weekly meetings. Along with information, Lorraine is looking at bringing in other people as well such as a young homemaker two blocks from me who has a two-year-old child. My grandson Elijah is, of course, at the meetings so young children are certainly welcome. Lorraine says that two years ago the woman and her husband were the only ones on that block opposed to the war. The opposition is no longer an isolated viewpoint, it probably was never as isolated as the media portrayed it to be, and now is the time for us to come together and address the issue that the media continues to show reluctance towards.

That will be the real change and, I would argue, the time is now. As C.I. noted, I have again changed the name of my report. It is now "Ruth's Report." I joke that it will soon be just "Ruth" and I will be like Cher after the divorces from Sonny Bono and Gregg Allman. The resons for the change, as the community is fully aware, has to do with leaving the stance of cheerleader. I will happily note people addressing the war but I am not interested in, as C.I. has put it, handing out gold stars each week. Besides the fact that there would be many weeks where no gold stars were handed out, there is the more important fact that everyone should be addressing the war. That is where my focus is.