This week I went to my first protest, marking the 4th anniversary of the war in Iraq. Really, it was a peace vigil, but it was protest-y. And I'm gonna say, it wasn't really all I'd hoped for. I did feel like the organizers were into it, and the crowd was indeed peaceful, but I just felt silly. Several times, while standing in a line across the edge of Union Square Park, singing "All we are saying, is give peace a chance" (just those words, not the whole song) for the fiftieth time, I thought to myself, "Really? Is this going to make people more aware of the killing going on a world away? Is GW going to stop and go 'Hey, Laura, it looks like people are against this thing. Did you know and not think to tell me'?" Granted this was small scale, but I believe that you either have to be more optimistic or more pessimistic for protesting to work for you.
At the "peace vigil" we were approached by a guy in his late 20s who was convinced that we were all people who were for the war when it started, now there to ease pangs of conscience, and that none of us had seen Why We Fight. There was another man passing out fliers to let us know that the organization organizing the vigil, MoveOn.org, was not taking a strong enough stance on the war, and that we all needed to call our congresspeople to call for an immediate withdrawal. And then there were the women in their 60s, who spent much of their time talking about the joys and perils of the Internet, who had been protesting wars their entire lives and truly must believe that they create movement in the right direction. I must fall somewhere in the middle of all of this. Wanting the war to be over, and angry that it ever began, but knowing the impracticality of immediate withdrawal and not knowing exactly what the answer is. I read an article this week about a family that is trying for one year to make no impact on the planet. The wife said, when referring to her old habits, "If I was a student, I would protest myself." Me too.