While our mass media wet themselves in a grim hysteria over a "mastermind" who has "confessed" to every evil act conceived or committed over the past 20 years or so (and just at a time when the wraps are coming off one of the more impeachable offenses of this administration, the political firings of US attorneys ordered straight from the White House); we are preparing for another weekend of dissent to further the prospects for peace.
We should first remind ourselves of what we mean when we talk about peace; we should be very clear about what many of us will be marching for this weekend. Peace is not a negative: it is not the mere absence of war; nor is it the annihilation of one's enemies.
Peace is not silence; it is not the stagnation of mute conformity. Peace is a dance—action from a center; it is the ground upon which you stand as you push the boundaries of belief and possibility. Peace is the oxygen that gives democratic dissent its breath.
For example: China is not at war. But are the Chinese people then living in peace? If you lived there today and attempted to connect to this blog, or if you typed "Falun Gong" into a search engine, you would be hunted down and thrown into a cell where you might rot for years, if not your entire life. Is that peace?
In our own country, if you have the wrong color skin or lack a certain educational pedigree, your chances of being unemployed, ruined, and disenfranchised by your society are more than doubled, compared to the rest of your fellow citizens, even as government officials appear on television to mouth the lie of equality. You can now be detained and held without charge, trial, or the right to an attorney on the suspicion that you are an "enemy combatant," at any time the government thinks you are a hindrance to its juggernaut movement.
So, are we at peace? I would submit that if the President tomorrow ordered the immediate return of every single American soldier in Iraq, we would still not be at peace. We lost our peace when we lost our will for dissent. We relinquished peace when we mutely accepted the bland and stereotyped fearmongering of newsmen and talking heads in a television box.
The silence of conformity is the most violent and destructive form of war. It is what made the Nazi holocaust, the Stalinist purges, and all the other depredations of humanity of the last century possible. As long as we conform, we are under the most insidious and dangerous attack imaginable; as long as we are silent, we will never be at peace.
Once again, if you're planning to be in New York for Sunday's march and would like to meet up, post a comment.