pro-peace, not anti-war
It's the eve of the Big September 24 Peace March in Frisco. (I know they're supposed to hate being called Frisco, but that's just obdurate — Frisco is so cool, & after 32 years of living 40 miles south of that misty and mysterious city, I'm bloody gonna call it Frisco.)
A few days ago I thought, Well, we should dub ourselves pro-peace rather than anti-war. This better obeys the powerful but slightly tweaky notion of what in hypnosis is called an embedded command. Stick with this because it is important in all your life. Once you see through the psycho-lingual trick, you'll grok it forever.
If I say “Don't fall off the ladder!” — it's called an embedded command TO fall off the ladder. Because in order to comprehend the words themselves, you have to (unconsciously) imagine yourself falling off the ladder. The really helpful exhortation is “Hang onto the ladder!” or some such version which requires your brain to process actually hanging onto the ladder.
The other subtlety of this is that you cannot do a negative. You cannot stop smoking. You do something else instead. You start breathing freely. You observe the sunset after dinner instead of smoking, or whatever.
(Larry King always goes to a break saying, “Don't go away.” I always shout at the screen, “Embedded command!” Charlie Rose & others say, “Stay with us.”)
IF we say 'anti-war' instead of 'pro-peace' in this micro-embedded command, we are requiring people to imagine the war. IF we say pro-peace, they have to imagine something about peace to even comprehend the words.
I have put Compulsory Cannibalism here because it's such a darn good piece of cherry pie idea. And I put the Grave of Known Soldier #1999 here too because this afternoon at the weekly major intersection mini-peace demo, one of our folks had taped 1913 on the street light pole. And I had written #1999 when we still had 145 dead kids to go. Now we only have 86 kids to collateralize. 86 families to shatter. Of course who cares about the Iraqi dead and their ruined mothers — they aren't Americans. We could still save #1999 — who should haunt us all.
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“Compulsory cannibalism: if you had to eat everyone you killed, war would end damn fast,” said Abbie Hoffman.
Another sign at the 03.15.03 SF Rally: Mirth on Earth. Power to the Peaceful is a perennial favorite of mine. This sublime guy with an huge pink wig had a beautifully lettered sign saying, If you don’t choose peace over war, aliens will land in my wig. A sign like that makes humanssooftenunkind worth saving after all. Jonathan Schell talks about the ‘unredeemably stupid fatality’ that leads to war. On 11.29.02, I was talking to a guy about how ‘Mr. Bush & Mr. Hussein won’t get any dust on their shoes.’ He said that if like George Washington they were required to be out there themselves, then he would listen to them. I said, “Why aren’t we called pro-peace?”
I wrote then a little piece called Dead is Dead. On 9.13.02. Before I had made my teach peace sign on 10.09.02.
Reading in the New Yorker about the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />World Trade Center, our rage & disbelief: The ‘How could this act of brutal madness,’ the ‘Who could do, could conceive such a thing? seem obvious and emotionally rational. ‘The enormity of the act.’ The dazed, bereft people holding cheerful snapshots of the lost. Yes it was an irredeemably evil act. Yet we never as Americans imagine or connect that the vaporized souls in Hiroshima or Nagasaki or the dozens of wooden Japanese cities we firebombed were also someone’s sweetheart or son or sister. We have already proved ourselves terrorists, or deliberate killers of civilians, with weapons of mass destruction. Ye gods we ought to be humble. Instead we escalate in arrogance and sanctimonious patriotism.
Dead is dead. Whatever fancy justification we prettify it up with, we vaporized over 200,000 civilians, and it doesn’t disturb our sleep. We had our reasons.
They have their reasons.
Until there are no reasons we can bear, we will not be actually human yet.
Our local Peace Group, Mountain View Voices for Peace, is already planning a solemn March for after Death #2000. (If you haven’t had a chance to read Grave of the Known Soldier #1999, I have it here below for you. It’ll break your heart. I keep thinking we could still save this kid #1999 – he wouldn’t have to die.
MVVP has members meet at the intersection of El Camino & Castro every Friday from 6p-7p, the height of the commute, with pro-peace signs and waving. (This is a major local intersection.) You could start such a group in your town if you haven’t yet. You can get more info and ask questions here. Or you can be an individual loon like me and go out a little every day with something like a teach peace sign as you go about your business to the post office or the library. See details on that here. (It’s only the first two excruciating forays you have to get past and then you feel foolish without your sign! I’ve been out 1076 days in a row now. It isn’t about me, or you – it’s about that one little girl or boy who sees a person willing to appear absurd to some for the sake of peace and harmlessness and that kid will grow up to be the next Martin or Mohandas. If I don’t have my sign, that kid may not see it. The butterfly’s wings will not start a storm of peace.)
To me this isn't only about Ken or Casey or Roberto or Rachel — it's about Juan Smith #1999 — is there ANY way we can save that kid? </strong>
“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Iraq for a mistake?”²
The Grave of the Known Soldier..Save Juan Smith #1999
What do we know about Sgt. Juan Smith who is doomed to die on Tuesday November 22 2005?
Why does it bother me particularly that he is a huge fan of the fey movie Spinal Tap, a celebration if there ever was one of harmlessness? Perhaps because it is unexpected that a 26 year-old has such quirky taste. I like that in him.
Well, he'll be 26 when he is shot in the head. The left side of his head. His brains will splatter onto soldier Raymond Callahan, his second best friend, a 22-year-old from Alabama whose mother, Joyce Callahan, voted for George Bush in 2000, but will never vote Republican again. Mrs. Smith, Juan's mother, dwells in a twilight of sadness.
Juan Smith's birthday is on November 8, so he is 25 now as we watch in August, waiting for him to die. Just turned 26 when he dies. He is a Scorpio with Pisces rising. Brave, dreamy, very very smart about the conscious world of day and of tanks, RPGs and rubble, and of the unconscious world, which runs the whole shebang in Iraqi, but which is never spoken of.
Juan Smith does not have to die. He does not have to be #1999. We could stop it at once. Someone will be the last man's name on a stark white cross. The last man on The List. Maybe it could stop at # 1888? Mr. Bush could see that piling up more dead in flag-draped coffins we are not allowed to view will not make the war end better. It is going to end badly. We know that. Nothing will keep the insurgents from blowing up American soldiers for the next 300 years. Cheap explosives. Countless idealistic young men, sold, like ours, a bill of goods.
There will be some morning when The Lizard Leaders lie no more. Because nobody's buying their snake oil — well, lizard oil, I guess.
Damnit, Juan, I don't know what to do to save you. I do not know what to do. We talk now a little. I'm psychic. I've seen his death. He's seen me seeing it. He's imploring me to turn back time before it is reached so he can go home, marry the very pretty — not beautiful, but very pretty, Felicia, buy the blue pick-up truck his cousin could sell him in the first week of December if he could only live that long. Their first child would be named Joseph.
Is it Baquba? Taji? Al Asad? Abd Allah? I cannot read the address of the bullet yet. He has written the name of Felicia inside his helmet with a Sharpie. Felicia es mi ángel. He drew a heart above and one below.
Felicia keeps his tooled cowboy boots by her bed, waiting for his return. Which does not happen because we did not pour into the streets soon enough. We lamented, but did not act. As if our being embarrassed or discomfited was more unbearable than the death of #1999.
08.16.05/ 98 days/ 141,120 minutes until the Death of Juan Smith #1999
09.18.05/ 64 days/ 92,160 minutes until the Death of Juan Smith #1999
09.24.05/59 days/84,960 minutes until the Death of Juan Smith #1999
Today, 08.15.05, we're at 1852 American soldiers dead. To me this isn't only about Ken or Casey or Roberto or Rachel — it's about Juan Smith #1999 — is there ANY way we can save that kid?¹ Today September 18, we’re at 1900 American soldiers dead.
Is there ANY way we can save Juan Smith #1999 using the energy and the smarts of people like you and Cindy and me and any darnbody at all?
“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Iraq for a mistake?”²
I actually asked myself when I woke up this very morning, “Would I sleep with Karl Rove if it would stop the war today?” I have to tell you it was a sobering question which I could not answer at once. You cannot possibly imagine how much I despise slitherer Karl Rove and how much stealthy evil he has done malice aforethought. But now after a few hours of thought, clearly yes, to stop the senseless death of another kid, I'd even do that.)
As I write this mid-August, 1852 American soldiers (sons daughters fathers mothers individual unrepeatable lives) have died in the quagQuicksands of Iraq. [Now on September 18, we have 1900 dead. Only 99 dead to wake up.
Can we possibly pull our ingenuities and resources together and save Juan Smith destined to be #1999?
That would give us 146 dead to wake up, write our Congress people, write Letters to the Editors. Save Juan Smith #1999. Or does the count drone on and we sit baffled, lamenting?
Save Juan Smith #1999.
ps. Please send this Save #1999 link to your friends.
All the contact info for House & Senate is at afterdowningstreet. Get on their emailing list for Actions. It is beautifully and heartfeltedly organized. http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/
² adapted from John Kerry’s 1971 speech before Congress;
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