dimanche, décembre 03, 2006

Peace Granny Sarah

Yesterday the local news had an item about the dismissal of charges agains the "Peace Grannies." A group of 11 women aged 60-84 had entered one of the Army's offices in Philadelphia and asked to enlist. Some were quoted as saying that they had lived most of their lives already. At first, I read in one account, the recruiters were inclined to let them enlist. Then they decided to call the police. The women were arrested. The charge? Defiant trespass. In dismissing the charge from last spring, the judge said that they had not been trespassing-the enlistment center is a public area. As I listened to the interview, and heard the tape of the onlookers cheering "Go Grannies, go" I was touched, not only by their courage, but by the poignancy of their willingness to take the consequences of their actions. Americans have had more than their fill of bluster from people who never served in the military or had their own children go to war, but are all too willing to send others sons and daughters off to die in a battle that has produced nothing but tragedy and bloodshed. Probably these elderly women were relatively sure that they would be not be welcome-but they could not be sure. I thought of my own grandma, the late Sarah Smith. As I wrote in previous posts, grandma had a soul as big as the world. I don't know if anything scared her-founding a merchant seaman's union, sneaking anti-Nazi literature on German ships, braving tear gas at anti-war rallies. When I was child, I met the Berrigans at a retreat for activists at Pendle Hill, a Quaker center near Swarthmore, PA. My sister recalls being introduced to the Socialist peace activist Norman Thomas at a birthday party for him. Grandma knew the men ignorant to believe that wars result in final victories, men who plan only in white and black, might not be swayed by the acts of an individual woman. But, oh, if a million women and men took to the streets...then the politicians might hear their cries and think of the political, if not the moral consequences of their decisions. My own peace grannie never lost her faith in the goodness of the American people, in the power of one vote, in our ability to right the ship of state. When I act to help the powerless, when I stay hopeful, when I try not to hate in return, then I honor her memory. What can you do to honor the presence of a "peace granny" in your own life? Someday you might look in the mirror and find out that she is staring back out at you.

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