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Humor, music, wisdom, faith mix in call to end wars

Coming and going over about four hours about 700 people—children to grannies, combat vets to pacifists, people of various races and faiths—joined the “Bring ‘Em Home” peace rally and march in Spokane in solidarity with the Sept. 24 rally in Washington, D.C.

Peace March

Peace marchers

Marchers, picnickers, speakers and singers expressed both their opposition to the War in Iraq and to all war.  They voiced outrage that war makes money flow from the pockets of the poor to line profit-filled pockets of wealthy corporations and people in war industries, making their points with signs, humor and song.

“Raging Grannies,” about 10 women in their 50s to 70s dressed in colorfully stereotypical granny garb, made their debut singing ditties to familiar tunes to convey their wisdom as women elders:

• “O, we’re  gaggle of Grannies, urging you off of your fannies.  We’re raising our voice.  We want a new choice:  No more war!”

Raging Grannies

Raging Grannies sing for peace.

• “We’re grannies working for peace, singing songs hoping to tame the beast.”

Bill and Kathy Kostelec of  The Blue Ribbon Tea Co. composed tunes and lyrics to ask questions and musically advocate to end war.  A few of their musical points were:

• “The patriotic ones waving their flags do not want their children to carry the guns.”

• “Hypocrite statesmen—manicured and tailored—speak grand words to preserve their egos while the brave ones die.”

Brad Read of the Spokane Human Rights Commission believes there’s a growing “critical mass” that is taking back communities and planning how to live into a sustainable future.

Youth rally for peace

Youth rally for peace.

He urges protest beyond bringing troops home from Iraq and calls for “ending wars, which are a tool of empire.”

As a high school teacher, he calls for a “revolution of values” and banning access of military recruiters to high school students.

“Our country is caught in the death grip of military addiction,” Brad said.  “We need to bring our troops back from every outpost in the world.”

Money used to pay the cost of wars could instead pay for scholarships, teachers, immunizations,  housing and other services.  He added that “2.4 percent of the cost of war would provide safe, clean drinking water for everyone on the planet.”

If justice is to “roll down like water,” he said, “we must build  the plumbing to make it happen.”

Marianne Torres of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane discussed the effect of war on women, saying, “Women and children are the primary victims of violence and war.  They suffer higher casualty rates than men, but their sacrifices and brutalization are ignored as reporters hurry to report the latest battle.

Peace Symbol

Peace is patriotic.

“Throughout history, women and girls have been routinely assaulted and raped as a weapon of war,” Marianne said.  “Women and children have become more vulnerable  as conflicts target civilians, so rape, forced pregnancy and sexual torture are now classified as war crimes. 

“The absence of women in decision-making roles cripples peacemaking, peacekeeping and reconciliation,” she said. 

“The spread of HIV/AIDS is exacerbated by the breakdown of social structures during war, including the mass rape that often accompanies it.”

Marianne added that women  who are refugees or displaced, “bear sole responsibility for feeding, clothing and sheltering their children in areas that have suffered complete economic collapse.”

She believes many Americans share her belief that no one should die, not one more man, woman or child, for oil or for empire.

NO War

Marchers share anti-war message.

Wil Elder of Thin-Air Radio KRYS said that “the enemy”—meaning the war machine—is against “all that brings intrinsic value to human life.  The enemy is willing to go all over the world and kill people for land.  We want to think the enemy is redeemable, like Scrooge waking up to reason after encountering the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, but it’s not.”

He called for a “militant”—meaning organized, disciplined and non-violent—response to the war machine. 

Who would Jesus bomb?

Marchers raise questions of faith.

For lack of Cindy Sheehan—the mother of a fallen soldier who has reinvigorated the call for peace nationwide—Jim Sheehan of the Center for Justice in Spokane, said he agreed to speak.

“Sheehan” in Gaelic, he pointed out, means “the peaceful one.”

“What will we do about the insanities, lies, injustice, violence destroying lives and bodies; with the torture of prisoners; with no-bid contracts making the rich richer on the blood of the less fortunate?” he asked.

Instead of having them stir more anger, despair, hatred and death, he proposed:  “We must be the peace we desire, not passive, but understanding we are connected with people in Iraq, in Washington, D.C., and on corporate boards. 

“We must be motivated by peace and justice, not fear and hatred, so we can fulfill the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr.  I hate what is going on in Iraq.  It’s immoral, unjust and illegal.”

War is sin.

War is sin.

To start changing what is happening, he suggested people realize:  “We are all little lights.  We must keep passing on our lights.  There is a tipping point.  We don’t know when it will happen, but it will.

“Horror will not cease by taking a gun, but by taking the gun from someone’s hand,” he said.

The Rev. Paul Rodkey of Bethany Presbyterian said, “We must engage the world to change it with one piece of love at a time.”

While messages of fear permeate media, Paul feels compelled as a person of faith to “live by love, grace and hope, because fear feeds systems of oppression, empires and racism.

Pjammers perform.

“We need to find how we can come to the table with the world rather than spending money to try to find some new technology to destroy life,” he said.

While many American Christians want the Islamic community to stop extremists, he urges American Christians to challenge extremists in their midst.

“Go into the world that is filled with fear,” he concluded, “and be agents of change.”

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By Mary Stamp - Copyright © October 2005 - The Fig Tree