As I write this blog, I find that in addition to my criticism and rants, I must also question some things about myself. For example, I consider myself a non-violent being; a pacifist; a lover of peace. Yet why is it that I enjoy the violence of a rodeo? When I’ve attended hockey games and a fight breaks out, my hair stands on end with excitement. Long ago, I made a pact with myself that I will never, ever knowingly hurt another person or an animal. Why can I ignore that pact in order to eat meat, knowing full well the process involved in bringing it to my table?
Somehow this reminds me of another uncertainty. In August of 1969, I attended a peace rally in Grant Park, exactly one year after the Chicago Democratic Convention. We were happily linking arms and singing peace songs when up marched a cordon of police in full riot gear. They surrounded us. I had stayed home in 1968 because I didn’t want to get my head bashed in, but here they were again. One officer was standing about 2 feet in front of me, staring into my eyes as he beat his billy club rhythmically on his boot. I was sure he wanted to kill me. Then, suddenly, they marched away. My group quietly left the park and went home, glad to be in one piece. Since that day, I’ve been stuck with the thought that if I and my group weren’t there in the park that day, the police wouldn’t have been there either. By protesting violence, did I create a situation where it was likely to happen by my just being there? I’m still stuck with those thoughts almost 40 years later and I still don’t know how to resolve those questions.