Sunday, December 9, 2007

Silence Amid the Gaiety

Twenty women wearing black gathered in the cloudy daylight and waited for night to arrive. We were cold. We watched the sky for the forecasted rain.

We were somber. Ahead of us: accordionists in Santa hats, bleating their merry carols. Behind us: a scooter club in Santa hats, revving and beeping. Us: a file of black. Silence amid the gaiety.

Little voices from the curbs sang our words back to us. We heard adult voices shouting their solidarity and thanks.
We passed out 1,000 alternative shopping lists. People took them gladly. The handouts said this:

The U.S. is engaged in an ongoing military occupation in the Middle East. Despite pleas from members of Congress and the general public, the current administration has showed no signs of ending its military presence in Iraq. Meanwhile innocent children, women and men are suffering the consequences. As of late 2007, more than one million Iraqis (of which 84,000 are civilians) and more than 3,800 American military personnel have lost their lives since the start of the war in 2003. Survivors of the conflict suffer from depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, physical ailments and economic hardship.

The handouts went on to say this:

Please consider directing your holiday giving to help reestablish peace in the world. The following organizations work to alleviate poverty, offer assistance to victims of war, and work for peace and justice. All accept tax deductible donations.

712 5th St. NE
Washington, DC 20002

4455 Connecticut Avenue NW #200
Washington DC 20008

1375 Sutter St. #400
San Francisco, CA 94109

401 Richmond St. West, #204
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5V388

PO Box 8296
Philadelphia, PA 19101

When we approached the grandstand and learned we won the Grand Marshall Prize, our arms lifted in astonishment: a single file row of flapping peace bags. We broke character and laughed in surprise.

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