Just Shelley Photography

There were a thousand things I could have done today

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There were a thousand things I could have done today,
but all I did was sit at my window and watch
the storms move past.

Instead of doing my laundry
I watched the wind rip the blossoms
from the tree across the road
forcing it into full green.

Instead of cleaning house or reading a book
I stood out on the deck to better see,
forgetting to close the door behind me,
getting everything very wet.


If I closed the window and turned my back
I could have finished my taxes, or written about war and injustice
but all I did was look at the sky
and listen to the thunder.



What’s next

I have been sending emails to groups that have and still are organizing marches for peace, basically posing to them the question: what’s next. Specifically, I sent emails to MoveOn and a more local organization Instead of War. The only email I’ve gotten in return from both is group emails for new actions.

Instead of War sent an email listing several new peace marches, some focused around the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. According to the note, one of the marches is sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr Holiday Committee. I’ll be honest that even if I were still marching to protest the war in Iraq, I would not march in a protest sponsored by a committee that considers the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr a ‘holiday’. I’m sorry, but I only commemorate Dr. King’s life. This march has a very confused message.

I’m not surprised that I haven’t received any response from Instead of War in regards to “What’s Next?” From my previous experience with protests against the Vietnam war and transporting nuclear waste across Washington state as well as several other environmentally and politically related issues, I have found that protest organizations are very conservative.

The MoveOn organization, though, sent an email that started with the following:

The war with Iraq continues. No one knows if it will last weeks, months, or years. Even after the fighting stops in Iraq, the fallout from this war could span decades. We can only hope that it ends quickly, with an absolute minimum loss of life.

The email addresses the question of What next? by starting a letter to the editor campaign focusing specifically on the issues that I find myself focused on — working against a US controlled occupation of Iraq:

Even as the troops march towards Baghdad, a big controversy is brewing over what will happen when the war does end. The neoconservatives like Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle envision a longer U.S. occupation of Iraq, directed entirely by the Pentagon and with only minimal participation by other countries and the U.N. Their scheme calls for setting up a provisional government in which Americans head each of the 23 ministries. In essence, they want to win the peace the way the U.S. has pushed for war: alone.

The U.S. State Department, the C.I.A., Prime Minister Tony Blair, the major humanitarian relief organizations, France, Germany, and most of the rest of the countries in the world disagree with this plan. They’d like to see the reconstruction of Iraq as a collaborative, international effort lead by the U.N. And many of them believe the Pentagon plan is a recipe for disaster.

The decision on how post-war Iraq is to be managed will be made in the next several days, and the Administration is split. The consequences will play out in Iraq and around the world for generations. By writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, you can help to sway the balance away from the unilateralism that has done so much damage and toward a collective rebuilding process.

I’m not sure that a letter to the editor campaign will help sway the balance away from the unilateralism but it will start the conversation in that direction, and this is not a bad thing. In fact, the same letter should be sent to congressional members and local politicians, in addition to those who are campaigning for political positions in upcoming elections. Start the letters with, “I am a registered voter…”.

History People

Slay the Dreamer

On the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr and the National Civil Rights Museum:

Visitors pass through displays depicting African-American life in the Jim Crow South, honoring early civil rights pioneers like Ida B. Wells and describing seminal events like the 1955-56 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala.

Finally they come to the room in which King spent his final minutes and look onto the balcony where he was standing when Ray’s bullet hit him. Some find this place as evocative an American shrine as Independence Hall or the battlefields at Gettysburg and Antietam.

Thanks to wood s lot.

As I stated earlier, I would never join a protest based on a ‘celebration’ of an assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, I am aware that, in some ways, marching against war on the anniversay of King’s death is a vindication of the last few years of his life, spent fighting the Vietnam war. In an excellent perspective article on King’s death, On anniversary of assassination, some want King remembered as more than ‘dreamer’, the author, Gregory Lewis, writes:

As far as Julian Bond is concerned, the day King was shot to death is “the beginning of the reshaping of King’s legacy by erasing the last five years of his life, freezing him in August 1963.” Since his death at the age of 39, King’s image as a dreamer has supplanted King the radical opponent of the Vietnam War and economic exploitation of the poor.

Yet it’s King’s fight for economic equality for blacks, and his fight against the Vietnam war in addition to his eloquent and powerful influence for civil rights that made him, truly, the great man for all times. In one of his speeches, he said:

“Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.”

“Beyond Vietnam,” April 4, 1967

How uncanny that King would use the same words then, in a different war, that are so appropriate today: about securing liberties several thousand miles away when we’re being denied liberty here in this country, now. If anything marching against war would seem the perfect memorial for King.

But I think that Martin Luther King, Jr would disagree. He wasn’t a man who be comfortable with shrines, and wreaths, and glass cases containing memorabilia. I think he would say that the perfect memorial for him would be a living one, reflected in people fighting for freedom and against injustice and inequality every day of the year.