Monday, July 09, 2007
Can two people make a difference?

The front page of the Chicago Tribune today had a story about a pair of teens, Ashley Casale & Michael Israel, who are currently about half-way through a cross-country peace march from San Francisco to Washington D.C. The march was organized by Ashley via her website MarchforPeace.info with hopes of getting hundreds or thousands of people to march with them. Instead only two others showed up, one of whom dropped out the first week. But she and Michael (whom she had never met in person prior to the march) continued on across the mountains and deserts of western America. Currently they are in central Nebraska and are planning to be part of a peace rally in Omaha on July 14. They hope to reach D.C. by September 11.

On one hand, what these two are doing is incredibly inspirational. If I was still a college student with time free in the summers I would love to join them in their trek. It seems like an amazing adventure, and I admire their passion to actually do something to speak out against the way of violence practiced by our government.

On the other hand, it's depressing that no one else was willing to join them in their march. Where has the active passion for peace that characterized the '60's peace movement gone? My guess is that it has dissipated in the face of current cynicism about the possibility of actually changing anything (thanks to the stubborn refusal of the current administration to listen to dissenting voices or to the will of the people, or to ever consider changing their minds). My other suspicion is that since the war in Iraq really touches so few of our lives directly, most of us just really don't care. Unlike Vietnam where nearly every young person faced the threat of the draft, our current conflict is very easy to ignore. (Which perhaps reveals how shallow the Baby Boomer generation's commitment to peace really was. As soon as their asses were no longer on the line, they ceased to care.)

Imagine what this march could be like if even a few hundred young people were marching together cross country. That would be pretty hard to ignore. Who knows whether it would actually make a difference to the Bush administration, but it might make a difference to our national consciousness. It might actually inspire a few others to speak out, or lead people who are borderline in their support for the war to question why hundreds of young people would be willing to go to such great physical effort to make a moral statement against the use of violence as an acceptable solution to our problems.

Ashley & Michael are still inviting others to join them on their march, and they have hope that more will as they progress through the more populated Midwestern and Eastern States. And even if you can't join them for the whole journey, they are inviting people to march with them for even a day or two when they pass through your area. They also need places to stay along the way. So if you're on their route I'd encourage you to get in touch and offer them a bed. (I wish they were passing through the Chicago area.) You can find a list of the cities and towns they'll be passing through here, and contact info and ways to get involved here.

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posted by Mike Clawson at 11:37 AM | Permalink |


8 Comments:


At 7/09/2007 10:38:00 PM, Blogger Rhonda

maybe we should make a correlation between the turn out and the relevance of the march?

 

At 7/10/2007 09:33:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

What do you mean?

 

At 7/11/2007 07:21:00 AM, Blogger Rhonda

What I mean is (in a nutshell) that I'm not convinced the majority of Americans feel the same way as you do. Although you do have a familiar (current media) ring.
I'm convinced this is not the American sentiment as a whole.
When you say, "violence practiced by our government", I think maybe your focus is on the wrong group of people. Have you studied the face of radical Islam?
This is in part why hundreds if not thousands of people don't join the march across America;
Because people have mixed messages that are distorted.
We can call our government many things but to focus our hatred on them is not going to win a Democratic 2008 election.
Which seems like the main focus of most political speech.
When you wrote, where is the active passion for peace of the 60's?
new game plan. It's 2007.
And, accuse Americans of not caring you may be active but your passion is ill focused.
Please don't be so condescending.
You are talking to a really great bunch of people that are passionately pursing God and gravely concerned about the world.

 

At 7/11/2007 10:47:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

"What I mean is (in a nutshell) that I'm not convinced the majority of Americans feel the same way as you do."

Well, current polls suggest that the majority of Americans no longer support the war.

"Although you do have a familiar (current media) ring."

I'm afraid I don't really know what you mean. I don't pay much attention to the traditional media.

"When you say, "violence practiced by our government", I think maybe your focus is on the wrong group of people. Have you studied the face of radical Islam?"

Yes, radical Islam is violent. Does that justify our own violence in response? One of the first lessons my mother taught me is that two wrongs don't make a right. Responding to violence with more violence only perpetuates the cycle of violence. As Paul wrote in Romans 12, we can't respond to evil with more evil. Instead we have to overcome evil with good. Isn't that part of the message of the cross?

"We can call our government many things but to focus our hatred on them is not going to win a Democratic 2008 election."

Not hatred, just realism and a recognition that America is just one more "power and principality" and doesn't hold my true allegiance.

And when did I ever say I was mostly interested in helping the Democrats win in '08? My interest is peace and the way of Christ. I'll vote for any candidate (from any party, not just the big two) that actually affirms those values. So far I haven't found many.

"And, accuse Americans of not caring you may be active but your passion is ill focused."

In your opinion. IMHO, a passion for peacemaking is not "ill-focused". What was it that Jesus said in Matthew 5:9?

"You are talking to a really great bunch of people that are passionately pursing God and gravely concerned about the world."

I'm confused. Are you talking about the majority of Americans here?

 

At 7/11/2007 11:43:00 AM, Blogger Rhonda

We disagree.
That's ok.
I won't visit and post comments after this Mike.

I just don't feel that our presence is evil and that we as a country are evil.

I was talking about the people that visit your blog.

There's an air of contempt.
And I wanted to voice my opinion.
I see that's probably not been a good idea.

 

At 7/11/2007 03:58:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Whatever you prefer Rhonda... dissenting opinions are welcome here, but be ready to defend them too. You can't voice disagreements and not expect some pushback.

Peace,
-Mike

 

At 7/11/2007 06:50:00 PM, Blogger Rhonda

Push back is good.
Thanks for your thoughts...I think I've defended enough.

 

At 7/11/2007 11:18:00 PM, Anonymous Michael

I don't think the two marchers believe that everyone who hears about them will agree with their goals or their methods. What they hope, I believe, is that they will stimulate discussion and cause people to think critically about what is going on in America and the world. And, if they are not happy with things as they are, to do something to change what is wrong. They hope that America will wake up.

 

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