It Isn't Enough to Talk About Peace
Below the Belt: A Biweekly Column by NOW President Kim Gandy
May 3, 2006
They came in droves.
At the March for Peace, Justice and Democracy in New York on Saturday, I saw parents pushing strollers and babies wearing anti-war slogans. I marched beside veterans protesting a war they had courageously fought—and were even more courageously dissenting against. I saw grandmothers—the well-known "Raging Grannies"—wearing pictures of grandchildren around their necks while they sang and chanted, demanding a better world for their little ones.
I saw hundreds of thousands of you, fed up with this war and no longer willing to stand by and watch it on television. You stretched for miles down Broadway, as far as the eye could see.
It was a beautiful sight.
The outrage was palpable, as we called for an end to this war of greed and revenge. Women joined civil rights and religious leaders, labor and environmental groups, veterans, and people who had traveled from far and near to demand an end to the fighting, because we have seen the costs. We, as soldiers, mothers, grandmothers, peacekeepers, know what is sacrificed during war.
NOW played a major role in organizing and carrying out this spectacular event, which was covered by media across the country, and I have never been more proud of the grassroots activists that make up this great organization. True to our multi-issue agenda, we were marching for more than an end to the Iraq war.
We also demanded change from this administration: real diplomacy with Iran—and a promise that the mistakes in Iraq will not be recreated there. We called for compassion and real solutions for Katrina survivors—and no more broken promises. We protested the rigged voting machines that disenfranchise voters and the bigoted efforts to ensure that hard-working immigrants will never get a chance to relish the "American dream."
I thought it was fitting that the march took place in New York City, within miles of Ellis Island, where so many families stepped off a boat with nothing but a few coins in their pocket and hope for a new life. The 350,000 of us there—and so many more who couldn't make it—marched on Saturday with the belief that, with our efforts, change is right around the corner.
And indeed it is: Nov. 7, 2006. Right around the corner. We'll march all the way to the polls, and we won't be the only ones.
On Monday, I was in Los Angeles, where hundreds of thousands of immigrants and supporters jammed the streets, joyfully waving flags and clamoring for inclusion and recognition. Some of the demonstrators won't be able to vote in November, but many more can and will—and together we will ask for simple fairness, and a recognition that those who have worked hard and contributed to this country deserve an opportunity to become citizens and share in its bounty.
Finally, I can't help noting that while the New York marchers were making the trek home, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell was lending his own voice to a group of Iraq war protesters—the former generals who now say this war was commissioned wrongly and is being fought wrongly.
Powell's interview on British TV makes him one more in a line of former senior officials admitting that the administration's plan in Iraq has been a disaster. But the disaster lives on, contributing to more bloodshed around the world. No matter who steps up and admits fault, this global catastrophe will not end until the war-mongers, the liars and the crooks are out of office. And we only have six months to go, so there's no time to stop and catch our breath.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it."
And so the march goes on. Join us.
For peace, justice and equality,
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