Today, with the shootings in Arizona that took place yesterday, I have been ricocheted back to August of 1969. My friends and I had often marched for civil rights and against the war. On this day, a small group of my friends and I were commemorating the “Days of Rage” that occurred at the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968, one year before. Our arms were linked together as we sang peace songs in Grant Park, close to where the riots had taken place.
While we sang and swayed to the music, a group of Chicago policemen walked up to us and surrounded our little group. One officer stood about two feet from my face and stared into my eyes, while rhythmically beating his billy club on his boot. I could see the hatred in his eyes as he looked at me. Then, suddenly, they all marched away. Our group quickly dispersed.
At that point, my life changed. I had thought that protest against war and tyranny was a good thing. I still do. But I also realized that what I personally created during our little protest that day was a warlike being who was ready to beat my brains in, rather than the peace for which I strove. I had created evil, at the same time I sought peace.
For many years, I remained quiet because, in my mind, to participate in protests could indeed create more of what I was protesting against. In the past few years, I have found myself reacting strongly to the political rage being spewed over the radio and TV, and I often say my piece. I’ve posted anti-Teabag Party rhetoric on Facebook. The old anti-war, anti-violence blood has begun to boil again in me.
And then, yesterday, the Congresswoman was shot, the judge was killed and 18 others suffered death or injury. On one of the televised reports I watched, the sheriff of Tucson talked of the vitriol of the radio and tv personalities who continually spew hatred and call to violence.
And, I again realized that by my postings and by my own anti-Tea Party and anti-Republican spewings, I am again part of the creation of the problem.
I do not know the answer to this question: Can hatred be fought with opposition? Or does it just create more hatred, until innocent people get killed? I don’t know what to do because staying silent isn’t the answer either.