Tuesday, September 11, 2007
As many of you know, Patricia Lay-Dorsey (the dear friend who set up this site for me) is a gifted artist, writer, singer, and photographer, as well as a profoundly dedicated activist for peace. Last summer, she stood alone in the excruciating heat of Washington, D. C., to display her sign protesting the invasion of Lebanon. She has returned to Washington, this time to protest the threatened bombing of yet another "enemy."
Here are the first entries from her journal of her vigil. To see the pictures which accompany the text, (they add a great deal), go to her site at:
(Note: read from the bottom up. The first entry appears at the bottom.)
Monday, September 10, 2007
Day #1 of my Iranian peace vigil was excellent, and I have all of you to thank for that. Well, maybe not ALL, but certainly most! Yes, I sat by myself with my sign in front of the American Enterprise Institute from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. with a half hour off for lunch, but I never felt alone. It was as if I were surrounded by large numbers of my sisters and brothers, all of us wanting the same thing, all of us willing to respond kindly to unkindnesses--only one, really, when a woman called me a moron--all of us ready to dialogue nonviolently with anyone who felt so inclined.
I'd thought I was going into the "belly of the beast" because the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is considered the #1 neoconservative think tank in the U.S.--Dick Cheney's wife is one of its executives--but instead I found individuals who may not have agreed with my message but who, in almost every case, were courteous and sometimes downright kind. Now some of that may have been because I was totally non-confrontational, smiled a lot, and am a "little old lady in a wheelchair," but it might also have been the fruit of some inner work I did on my long drive to DC. I'd realized that I still had some hatred of the "powers that be" and that if I mounted a solitary vigil with that kind of negativity in me, I would be bringing more harm than good. So I released it. And today I saw that I really had, because when Newt Gingrinch walked right in front of my scooter, my immediate response was a smile and a nod. Yes, I've come a long way!
Let me talk about the kindness of strangers. It was a very hot, muggy day, and folks seemed worried that I might get overheated. One young man came up and gave me a cold bottle of Gatorade. Then Manny, an older Asian-American man who I think manages the copy center in the same building as the AEI headquarters, came outside several times expressing concern that I was in the sun--that spot made me more visible to people walking along the street--and finally put his own hat on my head! He also gave me a cold bottle of water.
And now to tell you about people's reactions to my sign. Yes, there were a few openly negative reactions but only one that was mean-spirited (the moron comment). And I saw quite a few pursed lips and pinched noses as if they were smelling limburger cheese, but what surprised and delighted me were the dozens of postive responses expressed by passersby and even by people who had attended the AEI presentations. I received more "thank-you's" than you could imagine, lots of thumbs-up, and even a round of applause from an older man who was walking by. And lots of people took my leaflets!
Now I am one tired puppy who just wants to lay her head down on the pillow and dream of my PBase sisters and brothers who are here with me in this work for peace. Tomorrow is another day and I want to be nice and rested before I take my message up to Capitol Hill, 'cause that's where I'm off to in the morning. See you out on the streets. . .
I've added 19 more photos to my Iranian Peace Vigil photo gallery. Click here to see them.
Well, I arrived in Washington, DC after ten and a half uneventful hours on the road. After checking in at the hotel and parking my minivan in a garage, I scooted right over the White House to take this picture. The U.S. Park Police didn't miss a beat and asked me the usual questions, ie., ?Do you have identification? Do you have a permit? How long are you going to be here?" I know enough to answer, 'I don't need ID, nor do I need a permit. And today I'm just going to be here long enough to take this picture." After I'd taken four shots, a different police officer came up and said, "You're not allowed to prop your sign up against the fence." So I thanked him and scooted away. A man with an American accent passed me at that point and said, "Why not?" referring to the words on my sign, "Don't bomb Iran." Oh yes, this is going to be a most interesting week.
But later I was encouraged to meet younger people who not only understood my message but agreed with it wholeheartedly. First it was Harrison and Jenae, both seniors at Howard University here in DC, who stopped to talk to me as I was printing out a new message for side #2 of my sign. I was using a table in the outdoor courtyard of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center--which I thought was very appropriate!!--and ended up spending about three hours at my task. For about twenty minutes of that time, Harrison and I had an indepth discussion about world events and how/where to find the REAL news instead of what passes for news by our American mainstream media.
After I'd finished printing out the words for Side #2, I asked a table of three young men--who it turned out now live in the U.S. but are originally from Peru--for help taping my new sign to the back of the old one. Luis and Alfredo immediately said "Yes" and Luis did a fine job of putting the finishing touches on my sign. They both expressed gratitude and support for my vigil.
I'll be keeping up this photo-a-day blog with daily entries telling of my adventures here in DC, but I've put up another gallery--"Photos from my Iranian peace vigil"- in which I'll post the photos I take every day. It already has ten photos and you can click here to see them.
Friday, September 7
Tomorrow (Saturday) I will get in my wheelchair-accessible van and head southeast towards Washington, DC. This 500 mile/804.6 km trip takes me two days to drive by myself. For the next six days--from Sunday afternoon through Friday evening--I will mount a solitary vigil for peace in front of the White House and the U.S. Senate and House office buildings. All day Monday, September 10th, I will be on the sidewalk in front of the headquarters of the neoconservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, where they will be hosting two public presentations, one of which is called "The Iranian Time Bomb." My final day of demonstrating--Saturday, September 15th--will coincide with a massive anti-war march and rally in DC which I plan to attend. On Sunday I hope to get together with family and friends--I was born and raised in the Washington, DC area--and, all going well, I'll be back home in Detroit by Tuesday evening, September 18th.
As you see in the photo, the sign I will be holding all week says 'Don’t bomb Iran." It is illustrated with two photos from Ali Majdfar's beautiful PBase gallery, "Throughout IRAN." Ali and I have been in contact regarding my intention to mount this vigil, and he offered his photos for me to use in any way that might be helpful. As it turned out, he chose one and I chose the other. I am only sorry I had to crop his exquisite photo of the bridge in Isfahan in order to make it fit on my sign. But I know Ali will be OK with that. He and I are in this together. I will feel his presence beside me every minute of every day.
I will be unable to post a photo blog entry tomorrow (Saturday) but intend to post daily entries during my entire vigil. Please hold this small effort for peace in your hearts. May it help my government/s leaders wake up to the disaster they are contemplating. May all who see my sign stop and think before they support any attacks on Iran. But most importantly, may Ali and his countrymen and women be protected from harm.