someone was speaking about the Troops Home Fast as it began here in
D.C. they said it wasn't being done in the hopes of changing Bush, but
of reaching out to others. I happen to be standing next to Cindy
Sheehan at the time, and she muttered "and to change ourselves."
That's why I love Cindy Sheehan. Cindy
Sheehan certainly says a lot of what's wrong with Bush, but she
derives her strength I think from acknowledging her own flaws. "I knew
this war was wrong, I knew the invasion of Iraq was wrong -- but I
didn't do anything about it [before it started] and I'm going to
regret that for the rest of my life."
Too many people have spent too much time talking about what's wrong
with Bush -- and sometimes missing the point entirely, I think,
because we rarely talk about what's wrong with us. What can we do
different to change the world? Asking questions like "Who would Jesus
bomb" is a way saying how superior to Bush we are -- without saying
what we should do.
At the fast, Raed Jarrar and some others have been wearing t-shirts
which said "We Will Not Be Silent" in Arabic and English. I am silent
much too much. One time I was not silent was July 4, 2005, the day I
met Cindy Sheehan.
Some soul spent lots of money to have a stage and a sound system for a
protest near the Capitol. Only 20 or 30 people showed up, but one of
them was Cindy. I said to her: "There will be hundreds of thousands of
people later today near the Washington Monument for the fireworks, let
us reach out to them."
We did. We passed out flyers featuring some writing from Cindy. I
approached each huddled family or group listening to a military band
on the grounds of the Washington Monument. Some thanked me; some gave
me the flyer when they read some of it. I kept doing it. I felt free.
Taking charge like that reminds me of the best of Flight 93. Taking
charge like that reminds me of the best of the Declaration of
Independence. Taking charge like that is a part of articulating human
To the extent that the U.S. flag and July 4 represented that sort of
self-determination, it has atrophied. To the extent that they have
symbolized unjust domination over Native Americans and others, it has
That must stop.
Whatever nobility has been symbolized in the flag is desecrated every
day by the actions of our "leaders."
That must stop.
It is many Palestinians and Iraqis and others who are upholding both
decent tenets: Self determination and protecting indigenous culture.
We must reach out. By fasting, by empathizing, by listening, by
engaging. Each other and ourselves.
is a writer whose work can be found at:
Other Articles by Sam
to Look the Reality of Female Suicide Bombers in the Eye
Notes on Current Reporting on Judith Miller
Toward Global Dialogue: Can We Talk?
Response to the "Kerry in Swing State" Petition Signers