Sunday, September 21, 2008

This Bag Is for Peace

© 2008 Karen Van Fossan

I've been away from home now for nearly two weeks, and it occurs to me that I'm living a double life. Back in Bismarck, I would have spent today, the International Day of Peace, knocking on neighbors' doors (for peace), drumming through the streets (for peace), or circling the state capitol with bubbles (for peace).

Instead, I spent today, the International Day of Peace, in the presence of my mother and an unusual paper bag. We (my mother and I) attended an inspiring peace celebration in the south suburbs of Chicago. Sponsored by Generations for Peace, the celebration included a bass guitar, a couple of maracas, fresh water, a DVD, a dog-eared book, and the unusual paper bag.

A few specs on the bag...

Current location: Flossmoor, Illinois
Future destination: Tehran, Iran
Purpose: World peace

Essentially, we were all invited to write notes to the people of Tehran, Iran, and then drop our notes in the peaceful paper bag. The contents of the bag were unknown to me, mostly. All I could spot were scraps of white paper, earnest notes written by earnest peacenicks, addressed to the people of Tehran.

I'm told they celebrated the Day of Peace in Tehran today. Maybe they pounded drums, surrounding Azadi square with bubbles of peace. Or maybe they did as Generations for Peace did today, right here in Illinois. Sing loudly for peace. Dance circles for peace. Extend the hand of friendship to would-be enemies.

Some of the Illinoisan peaceniks wrote volumes; I watched them fill their paper scraps with inky, reaching words for the people of Tehran.

I wondered, what did they say?
We don't hate you...
Please don't hate us...
We don't want to drop bombs on you...
We're sorry for what the USA might do...

My note was brief.
We wish you lasting peace.
From a mother and daughter in the U.S.

Simple words, far from profound. What could I say to someone I do not know, and I do not hate?

Maybe next year, I'll send bubbles.

P.S. People of Tehran, Iran, held a candlelight vigil this morning in honor of the Day of Peace. In Afghanistan, NATO forces and Taliban forces agreed to a day-long ceasefire, enabling transport of crucial medicines. I am not aware of an official response to the International Day of Peace in Iraq.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Were You at the RNC?

© 2008 Karen Van Fossan

Dragon Jane was there. Maybe you were there. There's so much I want to tell you about the RNC in St. Paul.

The thrill of being inside a giant peace dragon, blowing bubbles from her mouth, seeing The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and countless others taking footage of this mythology in the making.

The rush of getting a standing ovation for our peace performance at the Lowry Theater in St Paul.

The promise in attending Ripple Effect, an enormous downtown peace festival, where we received free art, signed petitions, met activists from all over, planted magic seeds, laughed at a puppet show, and heard lots of pulsing music, some of which we liked.

The shock at having our luggage searched right there on the sidewalk in the city.

The fear at seeing riot police in riot gear refusing to let anyone (even pedestrians) cross the streets.

The disappointment at spotting a vandalized police car, windows smashed, tires slashed.

The panic at hearing stories from our friends of tear gas, pepper spray, billy clubs, maybe even rubber bullets, wielded at nonviolent protesters and bystanders, more than 800 of whom were arrested throughout the week.

The worry over a baby shrew we found in a city park.

The sadness over seeing a reenactment of Guantanamo.

The hope that comes from seeing good friends (new and old)...Lizzie, Baba, Cam, Hillary, Rae, Laura, Julie, Jill, Melissa, Nicholas, Ariel, Jeanne, Gerry, Diane, and more.

The joy of eating Afghan food, and Thai food, and a pita.

The gratitude toward our anonymous patrons for making this trip possible.

A deep concern and adoration for humanity.

P.S. This is all I can say about the RNC for now. More soon...