Friday, August 26, 2005



Mahatma Gandhi wasn't a priest or a minister or any kind of religionist figure. His selfless, non-violent message-through-living-example of love, peace and universal brotherhood transforms the rigid (and exclusionary) boundaries of the sectarian religionism of the hate-filled, demonic and primitive Pat Robertsons, Jerry Falwells, Fred Phelpses and Osama bin-Ladens of our world. Through example, Gandhi, like Buddha and Jesus before him, contrasted, starkly, selflessness with selfishness.

I prepared for my trip to Crawford not by digging out the "F Dubya" t-shirt Roland brought back from Bolivia or Cuba or England. Instead I went into abstinence mode. I meditated on the writing on Bishop John Shelby Spong in THE SINS OF SCRIPTURE. I purged my consciousness as best I could, of the profane and worldly preoccupations that dwell there. I fasted for 48 hours, eating nothing and drinking only water, and even forgoing my dozens of herbal supplements. Cindy Sheehan was in my hometown taking care of her mother. But I was fasting and meditating and getting ready to travel to the hometown of George Bush (surely the most detested person in the world, probably the person most hated by the largest number of people anytime in history-- more reviled in his time by more of our fellow human beings than Hitler or Stalin or Genghis Khan were in their times!) and the temporary residence, albeit one she wasn't in as I prepared for my trip, of Cindy Sheehan, a grief-stricken and purposeful mother of immense conviction, integrity and courage, who wants to make sense of the tragic-- and senseless-- death of her beloved 23 year old son Casey in Bush's Iraqi misadventure last year. Bush was not on my mind at all, not even when I saw a billboard of him "welcoming" people to Crawford (not even when I posed for a photo with my friends Jim and Deece in front of it!) and not even when I bounced and bumped down the rutted road to Camp Casey II and glimpsed the Bush Compound and the buildings in it.

Cindy and Casey, on the other hand, or their beautiful spirit with which I sought to commune, were very much on my mind, and in my heart. As the vitriolic, salivating attack dogs and propaganda whores of the Far Right set out, on cue, to savage Cindy and their vicious and hideous personal attacks, so contrary to Jesus' message of Love and to our most cherished American values, she explained that what was happening at the former pig farm that now serves as Bush's made for TV "ranch" prop was not about herself (an imperfect, developing human being like each and every one of us) but about a simple idea. Are we required as citizens of our republic to sacrifice without question our precious children on the bloody alter of deceptions, avarice, power and boundless ambition?

The clear, shining light of Cindy's question to Bush-- "what noble cause required Casey's death (and, by implication, the deaths of thousands of innocent sons and daughters of American and Iraqi citizens)?"-- terrifies the Forces of Darkness and drives them into a maddened frenzy of torrential, unabashed loathing and rage. The Limbaughs and Coulters and O'Reillys and Hannitys and Robertsons are ill-equipped to deal with the kind of simple, straight-forward unadorned Truth and Beauty Cindy Sheehan is manifesting not just in front of Bush's compound but inside the collective humanity of the American soul.

So I flew to Austin, met two Texas friends I only knew electronically (Jim, a long-time internet compadre, and Deece, the leader of Texas' People For the American Way branch) and the 3 of us drove 2 hours to Crawford. At Camp Casey, Camp Casey II and at the Crawford Peace House we met open, friendly people, instant brothers and sisters. The rows and rows of simple white crosses (as well as some Muslim crescents and Jewish stars of David-- each with the name of someone's killed son or daughter, many with flowers and American flags next to them-- made for an inspiring and profoundly touching experience, an opportunity for prayer and meditation.

When we got to the field where a good-hearted Texas patriot had invited Cindy and her growing number of supporters to camp, we found a peaceful hippie-like/communal scene-- lots of easy-going people from all over Texas and all over America. And lots of media (mostly from other countries). And we found Cindy in the middle of it all; she had just returned from California. I walked over and introduced myself, told her how grateful I felt towards her for sharing her grief and her inspiration with the whole country, and gave her a big hug. I felt I was in a special presence, with someone who represents the very best in all of us. Her strength and equanimity amazed me. Her mind is clear as she transforms the greatest tragedy a parent can undergo into a blessing for our country and for all humanity. Cindy Sheehan speaks for me.


At 9:38 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...


Richard Morin reports on a just-out Washington Post/ABC News poll:

Slightly more than half of the country says President Bush should meet with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed last year in Iraq, who is leading a protest against the war outside Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex., according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey found that 52 percent of the public says Bush should talk to Sheehan, who has repeatedly asked for a meeting with the president, while 46 percent said he should not. Fifty-three percent support what she is doing while 42 percent oppose her actions, according to the poll.
Sheehan began her protest three weeks ago, four days after Bush began a five-week vacation at his Crawford ranch. She has repeatedly demanded that Bush meet with her to discuss the war. The two met last year at an event for military families, and Bush has repeatedly declined another meeting. Recently Sheehan announced plans to embark on a bus tour after protesters break camp later this week. The bus tour will end in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24 with a 24-hour vigil.
Like the war and Bush's overall handling of the situation in Iraq, attitudes toward Sheehan divide along sharply partisan lines. Seven in 10 Democrats say they support Sheehan's position on Iraq while an equal proportion of Republicans oppose her.
In the three weeks since she began her protest, Sheehan has quickly become the most visible symbol of the anti-war movement. Fully three in four Americans say they have read or heard about Sheehan and her protest.


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