Monday, November 19, 2007

a busy day at work, and over at my professional weblog, as i have so much stuff backlogged it will take me a while to tell it all, put it down somewhere, whether it be in order, as i would like my tesol presentations, or just out on the desk where i won't forget it, which is, really, that weblog. for this one, a similar experience- something that happened in early october, that i couldn't forget, and wanted to write an account of, before it passed by completely.

it so happened one saturday in early october, the weather was clear and warm, and my wife encouraged me and my fifteen-year-old to get out of the house so that the baby could have a better nap. we had bicycles, so i suggested the peace protest downtowh, which is every saturday from twelve to one, on a main street where cars are going west through downtown, passing the big northbound highway. at this spot they've come to expect these peace protesters, who have been on this corner every week for years, yet some weeks it becomes very lively as either more protesters show up, or anti-protesters show up. and the traffic itself is a little volatile.

my son was willing to go, and watch, but was a little uncomfortable actually protesting, so we didn't stay long. protesters invited us to pick up signs, of which there were many, and we did, and stood among them for about five minutes. I felt the painful self-awareness of a high-schooler in a small town, who probably knew more of the drivers than i did, and didn't make him suffer any longer after that. but in that time, many things happened. many drivers, perhaps a third, were clearly on our side, and let that be known. many others, possibly about a fifth or a sixth, were clearly opposed, and similarly let that be known. one lady put her thumb clearly downward. my son said he saw a man pressure his daughter into giving us the finger while he himself did the same; i didn't see this. occasionally people yelled support, or yelled the opposite.

the marchers, much more used to it than i was, often talked to each other, or ignored them altogether for minutes at a time. they occasionally waved back, especially at those who were friendly; many of the drivers wanted to say hello, whether or not that was committing to one side or the other. now, here are my questions:

you can clearly see that almost half of the drivers are unaccounted for in terms of their political position on the war. how do they feel? how many of them are averting their eyes because traffic is dangerous at that point? how many are averting their eyes because they are in favor of the war? how many do not even really know or care either way?

am i right about the general percentages, pro, con, unaccounted for, etc.? five minutes isn't really enough to tell, and i wasn't paying total attention, even all of that time.

to what degree is carbondale, and this particular corner (which has much of southern illinois passing through, though irregularly) representative of the nation? how would our reception be different at other spots in town? in the area? in the state? in the nation?

this particular protest, it was pointed out, tends to bring out strong feelings in people driving by, feelings disproportionate really to the mild degree of protest that it offered. stop the war, is really all the signs said. yet some people are surprised there aren't more accidents at that corner, just from people expressing their emotions with such passion. what's up with that?

what took us so long? really, with kids dying every day, it seemed to me like everyone should have been down there, and i, at least, should have more than five minutes to show for the last what, seven years of this war? but i don't. five minutes is all i've got. five minutes, and this blog. stop the war! truth: bring it on! that's what my sign said. to the protesters: thanks for the sign, and for being there, all those weeks when i'm not. to the soldiers: don't think we don't support you, or that we've forgotten you. we support you with all our hearts and souls. it is not your fault that someone put you where you are. it's because we support you, that we need to get you out of a place where you can't win. speaking just for myself here, i find it agonizing to think about this horrible tragedy day in, day out, no exit. life is too short. i wish you a safe return. please know that at a time when the politicians are all about, look at me, i'm all against immigration, pro-whatever, and i feel like saying, where were you when the president was making bold-faced lies, selling out our future and our kids' lives, and you were in the senate going, terrorism, take the money, take the soldiers, do what you want. we were supposed to have checks and balances to watch out for that kind of destructive foollishness, if my high school education served me right. best i can tell, it's mostly checks, and rubber ones at that. maybe the balance is still on its way.


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