|Tour de Peace begins on April 7th in Santa Monica|
The cross-country cycling leg of Tour de Peace ended on July 3rd with a very small protest in front of the White House, but, I must admit, it is taking me far longer than I expected to recover from the 90-day odyssey in quest of peace and justice.
|Cindy is on "first-name basis" with DC police state|
I travel a lot and my life has been one protest or long action after the other since my son was killed; I even camped in a ditch in Crawford, Tx for one hot August. Why has the end of Tour de Peace caused me so much exhaustion and, let’s face it—mild depression? There are a few obvious answers, and some subtle ones.
First of all, I must face the fact that I am not a super-human. I am a middle-aged woman trapped in a rapidly degenerating skin bag, in slightly above average physical condition, who just rode her bike 3000 miles in all kinds of weather and terrain. That feat is one that I will marvel at and admire about myself forever, but one that did take its physical toll. Now, my impulse is to keep going “full-steam ahead,” but every fiber of my being is screaming out, “REST!” I am trying to compromise with myself by resting AND continuing to ride my bike—I have to, I have no car—and doing activities that I love, like swimming and walking.
Secondly, I think the mild emotional depression comes from the fact, that while the Tour exceeded many of my expectations, it woefully “deceeded” others. Although Tour de Peace was wonderfully hosted in a couple of dozen of communities across this nation with crowds ranging from 10 to 200, I was dismayed to find that there is very little anti-war sentiment out there besides the anti-drone work—which is important, but not comprehensive. By focusing on drones we forget about manned aircraft and there has been very little opposition to the US and its putrid allies arming and training the "rebels" in Syria. The violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan continues and the use of drones is just one part of the imperial project of world domination.
Most people we encountered are rightfully concerned about what will happen to Pfc. Bradley Manning (in fact, the Tour went tohis court martial in Ft. Meade several times to support him), but not up in righteous arms about what he revealed. The Edward Snowden revelation happened at the end of our Tour, but there was no resulting storming (used metaphorically) of the NSA or the White House? How do we get stuck on the cause célébre, but not the cause?
Also, during the final weeks of the Tour, Obama was in Europe and Africa on his Tour de War—with very little commentary on how AfriComm is digging it’s vicious hooks into that continent to exploit and steal its vast stores of oil and other precious natural resources. In fact, Obama joined the last undemocratically elected CEO of USA, Inc, in Tanzania and good ol’ George W. thinks Obama is doing a fine job. Now, there’s an endorsement for the Obama lovers, eh? Anyway, I digress.
I think part of my depressions stems from the fact that I am trying to figure out how to be a “peace” activist when there seems so little energy to forcefully and with integrity confront the fact that The Empire grinds on and over people no matter who is the president?
I know that “peace” encompasses so many important issues, such as economic justice, but how can we advocate for that when The Empire spends trillions of dollars per year maintaining said Empire?
I realize that “peace” also encompasses criminal justice, but how can we even begin to address that issue here, when the US wages these racist wars for Empire all over the globe? After the recent Zimmerman verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, the lead Executioner himself, Obama, appealed for “calm” reminding everyone that the US is a “nation of laws.” It’s so nice to hear Obama say that, since he routinely breaks the law by murdering people abroad with his hellfire missiles and spying on all of us (to name two of his crimes)—now his fan club can look at themselves in the mirror after they hear their abusive father tell them, “do as I say, not as I do, I know what’s best for you.” It must all be true because Obama is the smart one and he can pronounce “nuclear.”
I cannot say that I am even close to coming to a conclusion in my struggle for a relevant path to be on. I would like to circle my wagons and start growing my own food and producing my own energy, but I have a very deep seated revulsion to the fact that the Empire I live in is murdering innocent people and stealing their land and natural resources. I want to be involved in a movement of people who fight against the same thing, but dozens does not a movement make.
I said in the beginning that this leg of Tour de Peace ended in front of the White House with a small protest—by “small” I mean less than 20 people. I had hoped that some of the large antiwar orgs would mobilize some people and I realize it was a Wednesday (when the buildings aren’t actually empty in DC)—but that “turn out” was obviously a "turn down" and it actually may have demoralized me more than any recent event, or non-event, I guess. The only thing that keeps the hope flickering in me is that people joined us West Coasters from from upstate Pennsylvania, New York, Iowa, Florida, and New Jersey to be there.
One of our goals when we reached WashedUp, DeCeit was to hang the banner on the White House fence that we liberated from the fence at 29 Palms Marine Base and we did it. I was surprised that we got it back with the mild admonishment to “don’t do that again.” The sign motivates the title of this peace because it read, "Hide your daughters. Hide your wife. Hide errbody [sic]. The 2/7 is back in town." We on the tour were rightfully outraged and appalled by that banner and that's why we tore it down. Being that the Obama family fits the threat implied in the sign (by the 2/7 Marines), we decided to bring it to DeCeit with us to show Obama what his troops do in the field and at home.
|Cindy and Bob Witanek (Tour de Peace, New Jersey) with banner before hanging on the fence|
I am going to write a book about the experience, (which was absolutely magnificent, no matter how letdown and exhausted I seem right now), called: 2013, A Bike Odyssey: Tales from Tour de Peace, and I am anxious to get started after I finish the book that’s been on the burner for awhile now, I Left My Marbles in San Francisco (almost finished, by the way). We are also working with the strong core of people who supported the Tour to keep the small, but mighty, energy going. Riding bikes is good for peace because it’s good for the environment and our own health. Gotta love that!
I will be traveling back to the DeCeit area for a trial with the rest of the CIA 6. We all were arrested on June 29th at the CIA protesting its participation in the US drone program and we decided to fight the charges. More info on that as it becomes available!
Again, a huge THANKS to everyone who supported Tour de Peace along the way! I will be okay and soon, I always am!