Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Die-ing for Peace

Today I participated in a "Die-In for Peace" on a central street corner in downtown Santa Cruz. Shortly after noon, about a dozen of us lay on the ground to symbolize the thousands who have died, soldiers and innocents, in the occupation of Iraq. We held in our hands photographs of someone whose life was taken in this senseless war. I was given the picture of the child you see here with the wide-open eyes, looking into a future that would never come. I had no idea that this event, part of the Declaration of Peace's week of actions to pressure Congress to end the occupation, would be so emotionally charged. All around me on the ground, people holding similar pictures, were weeping. The abstraction of war had suddenly become personal. The dead Iraqi child's face haunts me.

We lay on the ground while midday traffic whizzed past the intersection. People on their lunch breaks stood by respectfully in silence while Kathleen walked around the circle of bodies slowly ringing a bell. Others chalk marked our bodies as they do at crime scenes. But there is not enough chalk in the world to highlight the thousands of tragedies in the Middle East caused by our government's murderous policies.
Earlier in the morning, we set up an exhibit prepared by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship which displays the photographs of U.S. soldiers, men and women, who have been killed in Iraq, along with information about where they were born and where and how they died. That number has now passed the count of people killed in New York on 9/11. In addition, the BPF prepared a scroll with symbolic names in Arabic for the estimated 43,000 people who have died in Iraq, an increase of 13,000 since the last time the scroll was unrolled several months ago for a peace march.

The Die-In for Peace & Rally to End the War in Iraq did not attract throngs of people. And the deadline of Sept. 21st that the Declaration of Peace had set for action in Washington to end the occupation had passed with barely a ripple of acknowledgement or support from legislators. Our own congressman, Sam Farr, did indeed sign the congressional pledge, but he made it clear at a recent Town Hall meeting that unless the Democrats take control of Congress in November, all of these efforts to contest the Bush regime's misdeeds will be doomed.

Please let the eyes of the dead Iraqi child above bore a hole into your heart. Put off the paralysis of despondency and stand up for peace in any way you can, peace in your community and around the world.
If we don't, who will?

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