We held the culminating event of the summer last night. I got there early and set up the sound equipment, that went perfectly despite the fact that Ive never set up a PA before. It's pretty easy when there's only one mic. Then it got close to the hour and people started filing in. We had no food and no music and we had a decent crowd, we were getting nervous. I was quite hot from lack of a/c and carrying heavy sound equipment so I walked down to the nearest store for a drink. When I got back the food was unloading and some kid was jammin' on the piano. So that all worked out. I was quite surprised at how full the place was, my guess is around 50-70 people were there. I got to see some old friends, like the folks from Democracy School, which was very nice.
After some music and food we sat down and our first three speakers who had actually pre-written things spoke. It was good, the crowd was getting into it fairly well. Then we opened the mic to anyone who wanted to talk and probably half the audiance came up at some point to speak their mind. I was one of the early ones. I fumbled a bit at the start, I'm not sure why I got nervous, I think I need more practice with public speaking. The person before me spoke of the apathy of her generation, I continued with that theme pointing out how odd it is that my generation is so sadly apathetic considering its people my age that are fighting and dying. I pointed out how I don't like the term "leaders" when talking about politicians, in a democracy the elected officials are not the bosses they are the servants of the people, we are the bosses and if we don't like the job they are doing then we should fire them. The next guy picked up that ball and ran with it with a great sound bite. He said, "if Kuhl won't meet with us now then we'll meet with him in November." Overall the speakers were great, one person who's a Vietnam vet and usually full of fire couldn't stop talking about Lee Iacocca's book. I thought it distracted from what he was trying to say by the repeated references but it did make me want to read the book. We had one conspiracy guy who wanted to tell us all about how bush planned 9/11, I'm all for a real independent investigation but lets avoid the conspiracy theories folks. One person genuinely pissed me off by bringing up religion and how bush manipulated it so much, which is true no anger there, then she said shes a woman of faith and that the opposite of faith is not doubt it is fear, and how we must not sucome to fear. It reminded me of Patrick Swayze in Donnie Darko. Well fuck you very much my lack of faith has nothing to do with fear, the opposite of faith is reason. But we were in a church, and I was surrounded by people from Pax Christie and other groups like that so I let it slide. Again I want to say again that this whole event was very good its just that I seem to be recalling the parts I disliked much better than the good. Probably because the good was exactly what you would have expected, anyway I'm now going to focus on the part that I simply hated.
From out of nowhere a guy who has been instrumental in this whole thing came up and led the group in some crappy as old worn out hippie song, it wasn't kumbaya but it was close. He asked everyone to stand, I was expecting him to lead a prayer, he is the chaplain at a local college, but no he wanted to sing... I stood up not knowing what I was getting into. I expected the heads to bow while I held mine high with eyes open. Thats an interesting metaphor right there, the religious close there eyes while the doubters look for truth, but thats unrelated. The chaplain tried to get me into the front circle but I sure as fuck wasn't down for that, then the person next to me grabbed my hand, luckily I was on the end, but there I was in a crowded room full of old people joined in circles singing hippie songs swaying back and forth. It was horrible. It made me instantly aware of why the general public can never take the peace movement seriously. The majority in this country are against the war but the vast majority is not involved in working towards peace, besides apathy which is the biggest reason, second has to be that peace activists are weird people. Normal Americans don't want to stand in a circle singing songs that could put you to sleep, its not cool. I wanted to kick my way to the mic and say heres one from my generation and start in with some Anti-Flag. Some will say that I'm making too big a deal out of this but I don't. I think those who engage in this type of activity in an environment where we are trying to reach out to a wider audience are doing very real harm to the movement. Shit I'm part of the movement and it made me uncomfortable. The video will be up at some point, I know I'm in it a bit, I'm the fat guy with chops standing still while everyone else sways not singing and trying not to look at the camera. I had earlier talked about trying to get young people out to events. If I had managed to get any of my friends to go I would have been humiliated, they sure as hell never would have come back, I would have been a laughing stock. That part is not an exaggeration which is why I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that this crap hurts the peace movement as a whole.
So to finish up the meeting went better than I expected, a good time was had by all, just don't ask me to sing, unless you've got a punk band.