Writings, Essays, Lyrics, Musings, Commentary . . .
Article #19: War???? Choose Your WeaponLate Winter, 2003 - by Gaye Adegbalola
Last week I got a new tattoo. It is a traditional, old-timey
design (yes, I'm an old fashioned girl) of a heart with the lettering "TRUE
UNTIL DEATH" in 3 scrolls. The original flash had a dagger piercing the
heart, but I changed the dagger to a microphone -- my favorite microphone, a
Sennheiser 431. I'd thought on this design for a long time. I knew it was perfect
when I pondered my potential career change and decided that I would never leave
performing. But I didn't get it done at that time -- not until the snipings
and the racial profiling and the threat of war did I commit to the permanency.
It was then that I knew that my microphone would be my weapon -- forever.
I didn't need permanent ink to tell me that, but, as the saying goes," my body is my temple and I'm decorating the walls." I am decorated with my mantras. Every day, as I step from the shower, I eye my leg and witness my reaffirmation: the microphone is my weapon -- to combat the ills of the world with music, with love. So, I ask, do you have a weapon? Not everyone is an artist, but everyone feels love and that love can be communicated -- one way or another. On a personal level, the gift of a flower, the gift of a compliment and, of course, as Gibran put it so succinctly, work is love made visible. But what about your weapon choice in the face of war, in the face of hatred???
After my last article, "Avenging the Snipers," a couple of readers wrote asking how could they get the courage to speak out against racial profiling. What did I do to get courage? I guess I've been steeped in the courage of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements and in Saffire. But if you need courage to choose a weapon to combat this war or anything else deemed unjust, I say that you start by using your voice -- honestly and, indeed if necessary, quietly.
Maya Angelou, in a Modern Maturity article several months ago, said: "I think you develop it (courage) the same way you cook or develop muscles. You don't start off with a Beef Wellington. You start off with a hard-boiled egg, then an omelet. Before you know it, you're doing a frittata. Where to start? Walk out of a room where there are racial pejoratives bandied about. Any of them. From "honky" to "nigger" to"Jap" to "kike." Anytime you hear them, say, "Excuse me. I'm sorry. I know that's poison, I can't stand here." In this way, you don't get into a shouting match with the perpetrators. You don't even blame them. You quietly speak your heart. Of course more is needed, we're talking about war and "weapons of mass destruction." More has to be done, but it all starts on an individual level. Make a vow that you won't let "nigger" (or any other such word) slip into any conversation. Make a vow that you will say to every war monger, "I am a person of peace."
Speaking your heart is your weapon. If you still haven't the courage to say things aloud, obviously you have the internet. Petitions abound. Jokes abound. Spam fills cyberspace. One spam I received this week was slogans from anti-war protests in DC and around the world. (Beth Holmes, from Texas, sent it to me.) I am printing this list at the end of this article hoping that you might take one slogan from the list and add it after your name at the end of every email you send. I've chosen "WWJD -- not what would Jesus do? but what would Jesus DRIVE?" The weapon that is needed now is your voice -- aurally or in print. One friend, Sherry Chambers, wrote back after "Avenging," commenting on how pained she was/is that the snipers are black. Her voice was passionate and eloquent and much needed in this world which renders too many dry words on a page. In an effort to amplify her voice, asked her if I could share her words with you. They are printed below (scroll to the bottom). I pray that she'll continue to wield her pen.
I know I have strayed far and wide from the music based themes of many of my writings. Hopefully I'll be able to re-focus next time. In the meanwhile, there's a war on the horizon. . .
With love and a full heart,
GayeWWJD -- what would Jesus DRIVE???
THE ANTI-WAR SLOGANS --MAYBE ONE FITS YOUR POSITION:
War is Terrorism with a Bigger Budget
And You Thought He Was Pro-Life
Bones, Not Bombs (on a dog)
"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." -- Thomas Jefferson
"I don't know what weapons will be used to fight WWIII, but
WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones." -- A. Einstein
War is Stupid. Bush is Stupid.
Who would Jesus Bomb?
Think Outside the Bomb
Drop Acid, Not Bombs
"All wars are fought for money." -- Socrates, 469-399 B.C.
War is Good for Business: Invest Your Sons & Daughters
War Mongering is the Axis of all Evils
Support Our Troops: Bring Them Home Without War
Weapons of Mass Destruction: Your Tax Dollars at Work
War Solves Nothing
No Blood for Oil
War is Terrorism
War Is Not An Energy Policy
"Imagine Nothing to Kill or Die For." -- John Lennon
This War is for the Gullible
Pay Attention, America.
It Doesn't Feel Like the Land of the Free.
No American Empire
Act Like It's a Globe, Not an Empire
We Can't Sit By While the World's Worst Leaders
Possess the World's Worst Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Best President Enron Could Buy
Corporate Policy is Terrorism
The Pro-Life President Can't Wait to Start Killing
Send in the Troops: Exxon, Chevron, Halliburton
Two Wars Per Gallon
Axis of Hate: Bush-Ashcroft-Cheney
"War is always a defeat for humanity." -- Pope John Paul, Jan 13, 2003
"If you want peace, work for justice." -- Pope Paul VI
How Many Hijackers Came From Iraq?
The Iraqi People Are Not My Enemy
Middle Class White Guys for Peace
Don't Murder Iraqi Families for Exxon
Babies Love Peace
Go to War For SUV's? Hell, No. Ride a Bike.
I Thought We Were Supposed To Be The GOOD Guys!
If We're Spreading Democracy to Iraq, Let's Start With Florida
Preemptive Strike. Translation: Unprovoked Attack
Geeks Against the War
If We Had Wanted Bush To Be President, We Would Have Elected Him
War's Only Fun for the Fortunate Son
500,000 protesters >300,000 troops
Christians, We Are Called to "Love Our Enemies"
Jesus Wasn't Kidding
AVENGING THE SNIPERS
A CRITICAL RESPONSE by SHERRY SPROW CHAMBERS
I have to tell you that your writing "Avenging the Snipers" was both powerful and lyrical.
I faced the same trepidation (but did it anyway) when speaking out for my kind and true-hearted Muslim (Orthodox) friend Nader.
When the whole sniper thing was going on how many of "us" said "This person can NOT be one of us because..." Then it turned out that it was not only one of us, it was two of us.
Now what? Are my feelings of anger and hatred for such inconsideration of human life supposed to alter because the killers look like me? The reality is that the same number of people are injured and dead. Some of them look like me. One is just a child.
I am still struggling with it. Why should I struggle? Why am I taking it so personally? Only one item has changed in my observation of these crimes against humanity, hey, against civilization! That item is the skin of the killers. It is the same color as mine. I take it personally.
I believed the tv pundits and their profiling which indicated the sniper would be: (a) young (b) white, and/or (c) angry bullied loners. My own instinct told me that "we" don't coldly and purposefully shoot that many strangers including a child, in such a random manner. Generally (stereotypically) for good reason or bad, "we" don't indiscriminately kill people we don't know. I forcefully expounded on that theory as a fact. I would not believe anything else.
Then came the other idiot. Matthew Dowdy (another one of "us") lied when he said he saw the sniper shoot the woman in the garage of the Home Depot in Falls Church, VA. Actually he saw nothing. His false information wasted valuable time and resources. Why would he lie and feed the frenzy of fear like that? He was just sentenced to six months in jail and a $1000 fine.
Ok, I am back to my original question; how do I feel and what do I think now? Am I angry that my perception of my people has been changed? Am I angry that they stole my dignity and made me look like a fool in front of others because I insisted that "we wouldn't do a thing like that"?
Yes, I am angry. I AM TRULY PISSED!! I have been betrayed. I have to re-adjust. I don't know how I'm going to re-adjust. I've been thinking about it. I'm not even sure what the adjustment is all about. I don't know if it is my perception of people in general or specifically "my" people. That is part of what I am struggling over.
Today I saw John Lee Malvo's picture on the front page of the Washington Post. He looked so stunned and vulnerable. My heart ached for him. I wanted to reach out and slap him silly for being so stupid and then hold him close because he looked so lost. He doesn't look capable of such heinous acts. But we know that he is. Looks can be deceiving I guess. I would like to know what went on in his head to take him to such a place. And, of course, there's the insistent question, what can I do to prevent another "such a place" from happening?