Peace March in Orlando

Orlando march
The LORD is a God of justice,
who knows no favorites.
Though not unduly partial toward the weak,
yet he hears the cry of the oppressed. (Sirach)
God is a God of justice, a God of peace that comes from justice. United for Peace and Justice reported that 100,000+ marched in 11 cities on October 27, 2007 for peace and justice. The media establishment gave it very little coverage. There was a large march of 45,000 in New York; however, I could not find a report in the NY Times online. Nor in the Washington Post. Hmmm! I did find an Associated Press report that focused on San Francisco. There was also a Reutter’s report.
Two-thirds of the people in America think the war is a bad mistake. Where were they? Where were the rest of God’s people? Golfing? Going on picnics? Watching football games? Going to football games?
A woman stopped me at the local fish market. “Where did you get the peace flag on your car?” I told her and told her about the march. Her response is, “Where’s the outrage?” Where is the outrage over the injustice of Iraq? Where is the outrage of justice when the president requests a supplemental appropriation of $46 billion for war (in addition for a previous request of about $150 billion) and vetoes $12 billion a year for 5 years for health care for our most precious resource—our children?
We were greeted along the march route by a small contingent from Gathering of Eagles. Speaking of outrage, they had enough to go around. “A——-,” “traitors,”” infidels” were a few of the epithets thrown at us as we marched by separated from them by the mounted patrol from the Orlando police department. The first epithet does not even merit a comment. However, I am not a traitor. Peace is patriotic. Working for peace and justice is calling America back to her true values—liberty and justice for all, Iraqis and all other people included. Infidel? Am I an infidel because I try to follow the Gospel of the nonviolent Jesus who told us to put up our swords? So be it! These hate-filled words were hurled with vehemence. I do not suppose we could convince these superpatriots that our goal was the same as theirs—to support the troops (by bringing them home). I really cannot blame them because they have bought the president’s lie hook, line and sinker—those who do not support the troops [= Mr. Bush’s war] are unpatriotic.
America can be a scary place these days. A helicopter hovered in the air over the assembly site and made it difficult to hear some of the speakers. The police department mounted patrol was out in force as a show of force—a few officers positioned between us and the Gathering of Eagles would have sufficed. Police officers in uniform were snapping pictures of the marchers. There is no telling how many plain clothes government officials were beside us or among us. At another location, there were robocops in full riot gear including helmets, masks, and molded leg protection. The police arbitrarily shortened the march route citing weather and timing. I know that security is important for all involved; however, this show of force made me think I was in a police state. I do not really blame the Orlando police. They are caught up in the oppression and denial of individual rights that have accompanied the work of Homeland Security.
Then, there was the weather. A few sprinkles preceded a tropical downpour which left all of us soaked to the core. But, we marched on chanting our cries for an end to the war and for peace.
Some things about the rally and the march disturbed me. It seemed to lack a focus. Perhaps, this was because so many groups with different agendas co-sponsored the event. The Orlando Sentinel said there were some people books espousing Marxist and socialist theories. One person told us that it was easier to be against something than for something.
I know why I was there and why our friends from Pax Christi were there. I was there because I am for ending the war and I am for peace and justice.
There is a fine line between criticizing Bush and vilifying Bush. I wonder whether extreme Bush bashing and the use of profane language by speakers, including the f— word, really serves any purpose or furthers our pursuit of peace. Fortunately, another young man talked to the marcher who was making an obscene gesture at the hecklers. Obscene words and gestures in peace marches do not seem to fit.
Maybe, we were just there to stand up for peace and justice, walk in the downpour as a sign of our commitment (almost like another baptism) and to continue to work for an end to an immoral preventative, preemptive war. At least, we stood up for what we believed in—the nonviolence of Jesus. We march. God produces the results. God is a God of justice. With our faithful commitment, God will bring about justice and peace—some day!

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