Thursday, February 08, 2007

A "ragtagonist" responds

In last Thursday’s SB Independent, an essay appeared by a local psychologist who had witnessed our weekly peace march while having coffee at a cafe on State Street. I wrote the following letter in response.

To the editor:

I’m one of the “small ragtag band of war protesters” on State Street that Dr. Seabaugh wrote about in the February 1, 2007, Independent. (“Long Time Passing,” p. 46) I’d like to respond—not, however, addressing—and thus dignifying—his critical commentary on our age, our appearance and attire.

Dr. Seabaugh notes the absence in the streets of war-protesting Boomers. He wonders, “Where is everybody?” He points out that both Boomers and their progeny, “Echo Boomers,” have become inordinately attached to acquiring goods, as opposed to aspiring toward the good, a fact that may be statistically accurate. No mystery there: If Boomer parents have become predominately materialistic, their kids will mirror that trait.

But his question, “What happened to us?” poses an interesting question, one he doesn’t answer. Instead he suggests that new life-lengthening drugs may someday drive older Americans to the streets because they may actually live so long that they’ll have to endure the consequences of today’s government-gone-mad. That prospect, however, misses the point. He asked about today: What has happened to "us" today, to make "us" so lethargic, so distracted, so cynical, as no longer to protest the ghastly course the Bush administration has set for our nation.

This question, to be answered honestly, depends on what a fair definition of "us" is. Some of “us” do indeed march on Saturday—and have done so for 200 consecutive Saturdays since before the invasion of Iraq; some of “us” spend Sundays displaying 3,000 crosses at Arlington West; some of “us” stand weekly in silent vigil at street corners in Carpinteria and Santa Barbara; some of “us” gather at periodic rallies—rain or shine—to rail against Bush administration policies. And many more of “us” write letters, make phonecalls, seek redress from our representatives.

And so the “us” Dr. Seabaugh must be referring to is the “us” who sit idly by and muse about the state of things, but do nothing about them. If that includes Dr. Seabaugh, only he can answer, and only for himself. As for many others of “us,” I quote John Lennon’s “Imagine,” a song we often sing as we march up and down State Street on Saturdays: “I hope someday you’ll join us.”

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