Now three months back from the 11,000 mile ride for Peace, I’ve been decompressing and processing the eye and heart opening experience. Today I came across the old daily heroes blog that had been running since April 2006. The last entry I made, before trip preparations took over my life, was Cindy Sheehan. I’ve avidly followed her for years, but what placed her on the heroes list was her Memorial day journal entry on dailykos. I had been planning P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER for just one week when she released the news to close Camp Casey in Crawford, TX. There were many reasons I had already chosen Crawford, TX as the final destination of the Peace ride. Her being one of them. I thought it was ironic that Camp Casey was closing, but in my optimism, especially after reading her journal entry, I felt we would have a chance to work together. I remember the inspiration of her words and my excitement that she seemed to be coming out of the beige fray of muddled political lines and anti-war activist egos. Her proclamation that, “… the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of “right or left”, but “right and wrong,” had me on fire. Our insights about the prevalence of ego within the Peace movement seemed congruent. She writes, “It is hard to work for peace when the very movement that is named after it has so many divisions.” My own previous experience had made me bypass a big rally in D.C. for the start of the Peace ride, feeling as though it was time to take it out of D.C. and instead to the people all across America.
June 05, 2007, I would have been more likely to welcome a comparison to Cindy Sheehan. However, by August my opinion changed. After feeble, if any, responses from her and major Peace organizations/affiliates like Not in Our Name, ANSWER, Veterans Against the Iraq War, CODE PINK, and United for Peace and Justice, I sadly realized that those who rage against the machine often mimic it.
I have been uncomfortable with the media’s comparisons of me to Cindy Sheehan. The main reason is that at the root of the comparison is a classic, blatant media tactic that ultimately suppresses insights of the Peace movement. The media, acting as puppets to their corporate bosses instead of instruments of democracy, often paint Cindy Sheehan as a contentious woman. The general public, a rather large amount of people who need to be recruited into the Peace movement, know her as an angry woman. Of course, she has a global following, and these supporters both understand and appreciate her passion, insights and eloquence. At a mainstream level, this comparison to her implies that I, too, am angry or preaching the same message. However, the focus of my Peace tour was to ask one brief, yet important question and listen to the answer- without judgement, anger or preaching. As a result of this comparison, persons hearing of P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER are likely to feel as though they automatically understand my message. And likewise, to those “counter culture,” supporters of Sheehan, I simply become dismissed as someone attempting to follow in her footsteps. How frustrating, when I saw her as a hero, but our work and impetus were completely different. I still don’t even know sometimes what to call P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER, because it had so many complex messages intertwined into it. Without appropriate, thoughtful media coverage, these messages can be easily lost. It was a direct action to demonstrate that we need to put Peace on the map, that our nation needs to move forward as leaders to implement viable solutions; policy created through principles of non-violence and compassion, not conquest, death and imperialism. P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER was a direct action that acknowledged our general public are the opposite of asleep-they are awake without the necessary framework to recognize their own important role as catalysts in creating peace in everyday life. This is why, based on John Lennon’s quote, “If a billion people were thinking about Peace there would be Peace in our world,” I recognized a need for their empowerment-which could happen if they summoned up their personal definition of Peace. This movement is an attempt to create inner revolutions, whereas I see Cindy in her political forum as someone handling an external revolution. Which makes us quite dependent on another-for how can people rise up and be the proponents of a lasting external revolution without knowing what they are working towards? Our human liberation is beautifully, but precariously intertwined.
This immediate gut response to CNN’s (and other media sources) comparison to her was also heightened by Sheehan’s and other’s failure to respond to the numerous emails I sent asking for help in some fashion. She was pleasant and encouraging, but responded similarly to others like Not in Our Name-“that sounds awesome, have fun, love you.” Clearly, these people don’t understand that 11,000 miles is a LONG way even in a car, much less on 12 inch wheels. When I set out on the road, I was driven by our urgent need for Peace, driven by my heroes, driven by a belief that Peace makers would hear and reach out. I didn’t need a congenial thumbs up, I needed support. How about accepting my request to endorse or publicize the Peace ride, so that the national/global Peace family could participate and have the ability to offer resources-much needed food, fuel, housing and media coverage? This would have made P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER much more visible to the public. It is my belief that the intent of our Peace forces across the world is to stand up, be counted and help expand the message. The list servers and databases of major anti-war groups swells because the people are ready for change-and group leaders have a social responsibility. If our own counter culture media can’t jump to cover stories like mine and others, we won’t have any readily available sources other than the corporate media mafia. We need our leaders in the Peace movement to view our paradigm change with the principles of abundance-there are enough resources to go around. We can take care of one another-the Civil Rights Movement swelled because of its community and steadfast commitment to manage and volunteer resources to the cause. The more we splinter as a movement, segregate, judge and cling fast to sparse light the media occasionally grants us, the faster we will sputter out.
Sixty days deep into my trip preparations, I heard news that Cindy was walking from Crawford, TX to NYC, on a Journey for Humanity. The day I left on the peace ride, someone excitedly told me that there was a cross country March for Peace happening, and one week later I heard from a few people biking for Peace. My initial excitement that we would somehow all surge forward, unified in purpose, waned throughout the trip, as no meaningful responses were made to my inquiries for solidarity amongst all the groups. Imagine the ruckus we could have all made were there a concerted effort to promote the nation wide mobilizations occurring in unison. A ball was dropped by many activists this summer. It was obviously meant to be a summer of action. Just think about how strong in number and volition we could have been. When I think about the sheer number of miles clocked between all the different activists-I get chills. It’s almost like these anti-war groups support the conservative agenda by their failure to promote all the direct action that happened.
I ask Cindy Sheehan and the other organizers, “Where HAVE all the Giants gone?” Cindy, you were my heroine-I thought if anyone would show me what a Giant was it would be you.Ironically, right after my trip, Sheehan posted a bulletin calling for the solidarity of Peace organizations, commenting on the fragmented, protective nature of these organizations. A few weeks later she posted a bulletin in honor of John Lennon, in which she proclaimed the importance of defining Peace. I invite her, and you, to leave your definition over on www.peacescooter.com, seeing as I agree with her, and have been using the website to host 1 billion definitions of Peace. It will be up the rest of my life, but hopefully, there will be a unified movement long before some beautiful soul leaves that one billionth definition.
Thank you for reading. The song playing right now as I conclude this is off the 2007 compilation I just put together in time for the New Year.
“I ain’t gonna study War no More, I’m gonna join hands, the whole world round…ain’t gonna study War no More.”
I am thinking that applies just as aptly to our fractured counter culture Peace movement as it does our war mongering empire.
p.s. If you want a copy of that 2007 compilation-its coming soon, I’m fighting with tech gadgets to make this happen-or you can cover the shipping and I will send it to you!