I’ve written about what I thought was the pointlessness of standing around in downtown Chico protesting a war. I wrote, snippily as I recall, that anybody who thought Congress would care about a handful of people who weren’t rich was deluded.
Since then I’ve started to suspect that being what you want to see, as Gandhi said, is a followable path, that it can actually be done. So I suggested that my family come with me on Christmas to the Chico Peace and Justice Center’s Saturday peace vigil at Third and Main in downtown Chico. It was great.
Our arrival doubled the contingent on the corner, and our first task was to find a sign to hold. There were several signs, and I was reluctant to use most of the ones I saw because, although I got the point of the message, it wasn’t something I would want to hold up a sign about.
For instance, one sign said, “Stop war, stop global warming.” “Stop war” I can get behind unequivocally. I disapprove of war on any pretext and I have not taken part in one. As for stopping global warming, I’ve read that things have gone so far that it’s too late to make much difference anyway. Even if that’s not so, global warming won’t be awful for everybody, and I’m not taking sides.
The main reason I’m not alarmed about global warming is that, although I’ve read some science—a soulless religion for some of us—and I’m easily fascinated by its sweep and detail, I also know that conclusions and theories that depend on a numerical readout can fall apart at the drop of a hat, from dating artifacts to counting planets. My main reaction to global warming is to ride my bike and use tote bags. I walk, too.
I think there’s a connection between war and global warming, but tying them together on a sign went too far without an explanation, and then the words would be too small.
Another sign said, “People need jobs,” which is nonsense. We need to make a living, but our focusing on wage slavery and not looking for alternatives only perpetuates this corporate model we’re in. So that sign was out.
Now I’m woo-woo enough to realize that silent witnessing goes on all the time—usually unconsciously—and is probably all that matters. Ram Dass is quoted as saying, “The only thing you have to offer another human being, ever, is your own state of being.” Yep.
Then I found a placard with just a plain old peace sign on it. Perfect, and it worked—the whole hour we were there, Third and Main was entirely peaceful.