Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How Would Buddha Protest?

Dear Friends,

For those of you who are dharma sisters/brothers, or simply interested in how a person reconciles their spiritual principles with vehement and direct action for peace, here are a few reflections. I am learning as I go, and when I found myself questioning an action I participated in in DC (was it truly loving in its intention? did it add to divisiveness and anger in the world?) I would remind myself that I went to DC to RISK, to LEARN, and to GROW (as well as to change the world!). So if there were mistakes, they were in the interest of developing more skill and awareness and wisdom about moral and skillful action in an empire running amuck. So I practiced forgiveness toward myself when I felt residual guilt or confusion about how I participated.

The question of "what would Buddha do?" - or in my case, it presented more as "What would Thich Nhat Hanh or Sister Chan Kong do?" haunted me throughout my days and nights with Code Pink. Disrupting the Heritage Foundation panel was probably the hardest and most controversial (in my own mind) action I was part of. Clearly it engendered anger, and increased hostility toward Code Pink (and by extension the Peace movement). The Buddhadharma does not point one toward confrontative actions that could be considered harmful to others. So what's a western female activist to do?

OK, here's what came to me over time. My spiritual heroes and mentors: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Thay and Sister Kong, and the Dalai Llama, provide incredible models of wise and skillful and strategic action in the face of almost unimaginable oppression, violence and power imbalance. Each of them were operating in a particular time and place, a cultural context, and their actions and approaches were coherent with that community and time. They skillfully challenged the predominant system without going so far outside it that they were marginalized and disempowered.

My job- our job as engaged practitioners- is not to completely IMITATE the form of their actions, but to diligently and honestly seek within our OWN cultural context (in my case, not just American empire, but modern feminism and western Buddhism) for what makes sense in this place and time and circumstance. For me, the underlying principles are my true guidelines: is my action/speech motivated by hatred , blame, or any attitude dismissive of another human being? The FORM of the action may not look loving and peaceful, but one cannot always speak truth to power without setting off reactions of anger and hostility. Should one refrain from speaking or acting against injustice because it might engender anger and hostility? Of course not! Is practice always quiet, gentle, serious, non-confrontative? (As I write the monks are marching- and being beaten- in Burma. May they be well and safe!)

Is singing funny, ironic, satirical songs in public, directed at policies and policy makers who are, in their delusion, doing incalculable damage to the planet and her people, is that non-Buddhist? Is not love, joy, fun, fierce compassion, and truth, at the heart of the singing and the actions. In my heart- YES!

How to assess what is skillful? Code Pink can look downright annoying sometimes (Jon Stewart's unfortunate assessment "You're not helping" is probably shared by many). But when so many more subdued and conciliatory or diplomatic means seem to get sucked into a vortex of governmental oblivion (from voting to protesting to traditional lobbying- which feels like ineffective business-as-usual forms- so perhaps loud, colorful, humorous, challenging action IS the skillful means needed. Again, my heat guided me to NOT participate in some disruptions, for example a Senate Judiciary hearing on the FISA wiretapping laws- headed by Rep. Conyers whom I respect, and attended by Jerry Nadler (NY), both of whom gave stinging and cogent short speeches about civil liberties and the need to protect our privacy rights at all costs.

Skillful means, one of the Boddhisatva's vows, can include a wide array of techniques and approaches, and part of the skill, I'm thinking, is being attuned to the moment and the cultural context (and of course one's own heart and what feels right). Just as Buddhism takes root in many different cultures and changes in form as it adapts, skillful means looks different in different cultures. Thich Nhat Hanh always taught that we need not put on a brown robe and learn to chant in Pali to be a Buddhist- in fact, he encouraged westerners to find the western form for dharma, a contemporary and culturally coherent expression. Otherwise we are just adopting a museum/preservation approach to the dharma, attaching to a cultural form and mistaking it for the essence. This makes it a religion, an entity with forms and rituals and icons which we preserve and adopt, but it doesn't necessarily make it a living breathing practice. As the Buddha said "Don't look at my finger pointing, look at the moon".

It has been very liberating for me to discover these thoughts and questions. To realize that MY practice need not be an imitation of a Vietnamese male monk, or an African-American male minister. They are invaluable teachers and models, but my responsibility is not to imitate them so much as to re-imagine and re-embody the principles THEY embodied, to fit my body and spirit and condition. I feel stirring inside me the sense of courage and hope that this engenders. I am responsible for creating and living by my best understanding of skillful means, wise speech, wise action.

One further personal reflection- I'm a minister's daughter, raised to be very "good", not make waves, not trouble the community. So it is all too easy for me to misinterpret kindness as niceness, peace as passivity, compassion as "don't hurt anyone's feelings." So my experiences in DC with Code Pink really stretched me outside that box and challenged that confusion. I am deeply grateful to have had this opportunity to bring my practice into the hurly burly and see myself act and speak and sing in ways that were not "nice", but were, to the best of my current ability, rooted in genuine compassion and love for humanity, our planet, and yes, even this country.

I am interested in your thoughts and responses.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Reflecting back on the DC Code PInk week

Greetings all!
First, a bit about my last night in DC, then some reflections on the adventure as a whole.

I offered the women at the house an evening of healing and supportive music, a thank you for all the hard work, and an offering of something much needed and in short supply- down time and nurturing.

As an aside before telling of the evening, here are some impressions of the women whoe gathered at the Code Pink house to devote their time and energy to action.

We came from Ohio, Florida, Indiana, Arizona, NY, Oregon, and more. We were mostly over 40, tho two of the main staff organizers are DYNAMIC young women in their 20's. Many left families and jobs behind to come. One brought her infant with her and marched with him in a backpack. We slept 3,4, 5 to a room, and on sofas, and cushions in the basement. We cheerfully cooked, cleaned, made banners and signs, did web research, blogged, wrote chants and songs,and walked and walked and walked as we made our rounds of the capitol.

I've never seen a group work so hard and have so much fun. I think the key to Code Pink's magic is the playful, creative fun that weaves through the planning and the execution of what we do.There was little sleep, no privacy, no down time. it is not sustainable of course for long haul activism, but for a burst of emergency presence at this crucial time of deliberation in Congress over another round of funding, it was great and doable. With all this stress, I heard no harsh words, flare ups etc among the women (could have missed them, but I wasn't there for the fireworks if there were any). This in itself is remarkable. It speaks to a level of devotion to the hig picture, the absolute necessity of doing everything in our power to influence policy in our government, that subsumes ego and more petty self-centered jockeying.
I saw numerous instances of courage and dedication in the rooms and halls of congress, and on the street. Speaking truth to power, undaunted by the suits, the flags, the oak panelled rooms, the Capitol security guards. I was impressed by the breadth of knowledge and savvy on the part of the seasoned Code Pink organizers as they locked verbal horns with Leglislative Aides the likes of Mitch McConnell (minority whip), Dana Raurbacher (sp) (about as right as you can get), Ike Skelton (he of the "Get those assholes out of here" quote during the Petraeus hearings-see 9/18 posting for more in this).
I couldn't help but be tickled to see their tactics in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing (around FISA the wiretapping laws that are being reviewed and possibly strengthened yet further). One of our members would be on her cell phone in the hearing texting back and forth to the Code Pink house where someone was watching the live coverage (CSPAN I think) and telling her where the camera was focused on the witnesses (then the person in the room would glide over to someone in our group and whisper in their ear- before you know it, a sign was raised, or a hat covered with no war buttons put on the head- on camera! Security would immediately eject them, but our numbers were many and there were several moments like that. Mosquitos! Gadflies! Guerilla peace work! You gotta love it!

I said on the last night together something to this effect:

"You women of Code Pink have opened up a space for women to feel and epereince their own power! You open the door, drive in the wedge to open the space, but then We, the women, act. You guide and give resources, you model how to talk with the "powers", we are learning so much; this is an empowerment project as much as a governmental change project." I KNOW that those who came go home infinitely stronger, more sure of thier voice and their strength, more able to imagine bigger deeds and more lively and creative direct action.

As one of our chants on the march went :
"TELL me what Democracy looks like"
"THIS is what Democracy looks like".

So- back to the final evening. We crammed into one of the tiny living rooms in the house, 20-25 people. I had set up a small altar area with candles, some simple objects, and invited anyone who wanted to add something to the space. It was a bit hard to get everyone into the room and focused and QUIET. The pace of work is so unstoppable, the laptops clicked on as I sang- (we who believe in freedom cannot rest...NOT a great song for this group!).

And it was wonderful. You who have come to the Womansong Circles know how it is. The slow sinking into your heart, the deepening of breath, the realization of how much yo've been needing this and didn't realize. There were tears, laughter, much harmonizing, and exuberance as well. We ended by inviting all the key organizers into the center of the room, sitting ina circle, and we others formed a standing circle around them, and we sang "we are sending you light" over and over. it was a beautiful moment, to see people who have given their all and more surrounded by this healing a harmonious energy, see their smiles and tears, the hugs and outstretched hands and high fives- the finale was
"May you walk in your life as a warrior
Clear and loving and strong
May you walk in your life as a warrior
Trusting the path you are on".

I felt truly that my mission was accomplished and I could go home happy.

So now- some reflections.
As I rode the clouds east to west home to Berkeley, I jotted down my thoughts and feelings looking back over the week. Here are some excerpts:

Jon Stewart's dis of Code Pink's legislative disruptions- "You're not helping" begs the question- well, Jon, what IS helping (and what risks are you taking to confront this government?). Those who dismiss CP's tactics (not all of which I support or participate in, as you know) deserves the same response- what better idea do you have? We've actively pursued ALL the more conventional approaches (By "we", I mean the peace movement in general),--We've voted(and had those elections blatantly stolen), we've petitioned on line and hard copy, protested, committed non violent civil disobedience, gone to jail, hunger struck- lobbied , talked reasonably to congress people...And the death toll mounts, and even the most reasonable of legistlative proposals, such as today's Webb et. al proposal to at least have troops be given as much time on leave as they have spent in Iraq, down to defeat...
So ANY group that engages in something heartfelt, brave, non violent and persistent deserves nothing but applause and gratitude. If you have a better idea, do it!

My motive and intention in joining Code Pink this week was to push my own envelope. get out of my comfort zone, take some risks, and LEARN through trial and error what direct action feels like to me. The inner difference between watching (and critiquing) from the sidelines, and being engaged, a participant, an agent of action rather than reaction, has been profound for me. Life changing. I recommend it to all of you! I learned so much about myself, how I react, how I work with others under pressure, where I'm tempted to hold back (and why), different ways that leadership takes form and arises, and how important it is to OFFER the music, not wait to be invited, to trust its power enough to bring it open handed and eagerly, as the gift that it is. it's not about me- its about the age old power of song- a tool for social change and human empowerment for millenia. I get to be a channel for this timeless and universal language, and I am deeply grateful for that.
In other blog entries I've described initiating song at crucial moments- in the demo outside the White House, in Mitch McConnell's office, and that experience of trusting one's deep knowing of what is needed, and risking stepping out to offer it- is truly a life changing experience.

In a later entry I want to reflect more specifically about how this experience relates to my Buddhist practice, especially including the practice of wise speech and wise action (skillful means). It's something I pondered and struggled with both before and during the trip and for those of you who are interested, I'll pass on some of my thoughts and conclusions (for the moment, always subject to further update).

Thanks to you all- its been good to get your emails and comments-stay tuned. I'll be active in other CP actions here in the Bay Area and will occasionally add some entries here FYI.

Peace to all- Betsy

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

PInking Up our Reps

Hi Friends-
too busy to post! We who believe in freedom cannot blog....

So again, just a nutshell of a full and inspiring day.

We spent Monday visit the "dirty dozen" legistlators, selected for their entrenched stances on war funding,condoning torture, taking money from those profiting from the war, and supporting the erosion of our Civil Rights.
(You can read a full article on our action in the 9/18 edition of the Washington Post online)

At first I was very dubious about this action, The "Hall of Shame" tour as it was called- shame not being a tool of social change I endorse. But I was curious how it would play out, and got involved in the planning (always a good idea if one wants to affect the tone of a group's plan).

What emerged was terrific.

By the way, the Code Pink mode of organinizing is a wonderto behold. The core organizers frame a general vision days or even weeks ahead (I know this day had a title and ddate assigned several weeks ago) but the actual implementation is mapped out the night or day before. At a house meeting, a list of preparatory activities are laid out, and volunteers sign up. Banner, sign, or costume creation, researching each legislators on-record statments about funding, torture, civil liberties, and compiling a summary of each ones stances that have earned them induciton in to the Hall fo Shame. Pink certificates were created for (and presetend to) each one, very official looking, with an exit strategy (how to get oUT of the Hall of Shame) on the back (vote only for funidng to end the war, zero tolerance for torture, etc). I and other wrote a catchy sone that we sang at the ened of each "presentation". As follows:
To the tune of "My Favorite Things"-- sing along!)

For funding a war that is wrong and illegal
Giving the president pow'rs that are regal
For saending our Civil Rights straight down the drain
You are inducted in our Hall of Shame

Bring the troops home!
Use diplomacy!
Don't attack Iran
And simply remember the oath that you took
And wake up and change your stand!

You who know me know how I love to write parodies so I am having lots of fun with this.

We also visited Ike Skelton's office, he who, on mic at the Petraeous hearings, called the Code pInk protestors "assholes".

we created a aphorism for the word, as follows:


Presented on a greeting card that many of us signed.

And a song (to Yankee Doodle)

Ike Skelton called us all assholes
We would not stoop so low
But if you stoop to calling names
We'll tell yo uwhat it stands for
We will say it prouidly
Spells out what we stand up for
And we will claim it proudly

(The chanting three times)
Americans Seek Soldiers Home Our Leaders Evade Solutions

Great fun!

Most moving moments:

I invited a small group of women to learn and sing some very -peaceful healing songs together. learned three songs (May I Be An Instrument of Peace, An Army of Gray Haired WOmen -thanks Kate Munger for these!)- and Circle Round for Freedom (Linda HIrschorn).

Some of the Code Pinkers were dubious about the plan- to sing in the Sam Rayburn atrium, a beautifully acoustic area o f one of the leg office buildings-afradi it would draw police attention (not allowed to sing in halls, only in legistlators offices!)-and make them kick us all out before we had finished our vbisits...But I was convinced that hte tone of this would be its one emissary, and would attract interest but not hostility.

So we did it!
And it was perfect! Passsersby stopped and listened, took poctures smiled, the capitol security folks, who were all over us when in the halls and offices en mass, stood by silently. and the singers were ecstatic. You know the calming centering and grounding affect that this kind of singing can have on all who sing, and listen. We were starry eyed and joyful when finished. So I think we'll do ti a gain!

Second moment-
Visiting the office of Mitch McConnel (minority whip), a large meeting room, with his Leg aide (pretty high level I think), about 50 of us crammed in for a relatively long dialogue. I wish you could witness the clarity, heart, passion and truth telling that Medea Benjamin (co-fouinder of Code PInk) and others bring to these meetings. Respectful (for the most part), and incredibly cogent. Questions and comments from many gathered there showed how well informe and thoughtful we were, represneting well the peace movement. At one point Geoff Millard, leader of Iraq Vets against the War spoke up- in a choked voice, saying: "All I want to know is how many more of my brothers are you willing to kill before this thing ends. Just give me a number. I watn to track it on m y computer, I want to know what numbuer we're at- just tell me- how many". There was no possible response except the sounds of sobbing in the room, Cynthia, the mother of a boy in iraq, leapt up, in tears, and spokepassionately (Can';t remember what she said- we were all pretty emotionla), she and Medea hugged and wept; that pretty well ended the visit. We presented the Hall of Shame certifiate, and it was time for our song. I said to the aid" Usually we sing a funny song at the end bu t this is not a funny moment. Let's sing about who we really are" and led "We are a gentle angry people". A song I can bet has never been heard in that room, and perhaps those halls. It was such a powerful and tender moment. I was so proud of all of us.

The aid was very calm and present throughout, filede all quesionts and comments (that's his job) and never cracked his veneeer (also his job). I am completely convinced that his heart was touched. He is a human being, and no human being could not have been affecteed by the voices, the tears and the song. No way to ascertain any tangible effects, but the point is (at least one point) that we brought our highest and best intentions and actions into the heart of government, and left with a sense of dignigty and purpose that leaves all of US stronger.

So blessed be!

Off for another day- today is "sister don't let sisters vote for war" in which we visit "progressive" women on the hill who have not signed on to a letter being circulated agreeing to only vote for bills that fund the DEPARTURE of the troops. And we'll visit a hearing in the judiciary committee on FISA (wiree tapping etc) which the leg. just passed a further extsnion of that invasive
and dangerous policty. Probably some disruptions will occur (and it wil be on CSPAN)- stay tuned.

Love, Betsy

Saturday, September 15, 2007

From the peace march in DC

Greetings, friends,
I was offline for a day due to tech difficulties, and haven[t time for more than a quickie!

The peace march today was great-Code Pink had a womn's convergence before the official march and we sang and sang! The ratio of music to talking was exemplary- unlike most rallies and demos- with a LOT of music and a few well chosen, very articulate and meaningful and BRIEF speakers.

The ANSWER/Iraq Veterans for Peace rally in Lafayette Park was disappointing in its refusal to have ANY music at all, and as usual way too much talking (and few folks listening). Why is the left/political world still so oblivious to the history of social change and the power that music has always played in galvanizing, organizing, unifying and strengthening those who are joined in common cause. it truly saddens me!

BUT I had so many opportunities to instigate song as we marched- especaialy whiue waiting patiently in our Code pink group for the march to start. There we really raised a joyful noise and got many many marchers all around us singing toether. The energy of song has palpable effects. I am grateful grateful grateful for all the years of singing, watching and learning from mentors like Pete Seeger, Holly Near, Bernice Johnson Reagan, and also my own SInging For Peace and Womansong Circle experiences- so that in these difficult and painful times I have so many songs and ways of leading folks in song that are needed and useful. And I continue to learn!

I'll try to get some picutres up on this site- if I can figure out how!

More to come when I have more time. Thanks for being there.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Singing and dancing in front o f the White House

Greetings- Day two in DC. Seems a lifetime already.

Last night we Code Pinkers and others gathered at the front sidewalk of the White House to protest before and during Bush's speech on Patreaus recommendations. It was a colorful and theatrical group- we had a huge GWB head which one of our women wore and strutted about, danced, and eludded the "pink police", CP women in pink police hats, shirts and badges declaring themselves pink police. They did lots of fun and really mood-lifting antics about arresting this character, putting her/him in handcuffs, wrapping yellow caution around her/him, and the 'actor' was very adept at showing arrogance, devilish humor, sometimes remorse, sometimes fear, in the face of all this pink energy. The use of humor in these times is so valuable! Helps break the paralysis aof fear and discouragement.

There were many "impeach" signs, and some warning of possible attacks on Iran.
There was a lot of NOISE- noisemakers, shouting, chanting. Capitol police linbed th White House fence - they had cordoned off the sidewalk with caution tape- tho it is a public sidewalk, turns out THEY got a permit to occupy that space and protect it- lest our exuberant and fesity crowd got to close to the fence. NB: the cap police are the ones who ISSUE permits of this nature, so I guess they issued themselves a permit! (Very consistent with the convoluted patronage insider tone of this administration).

For me, the evening had its highs and lows. At times the energy veered into the realms of unfocused anger and finger pointing, name calling, and such that I don't choose to participate in. Not only does it create a general tone of antagonism and potential violence (as the violent tendencies in others gets triggered) but I do feel it weakens our power as a movement, casting us into simple "we're good- all the rest of you are evil" simplistic dichotomies.The art of peacemaking and "being peace" as Thich Nhat Hanh teaches is not easy matter, but if we are going to this much trouble to put our bodies and personal security and safety a little more on the line, I would want us to really rise to the highest level possible of personal attitude and intention. What this looks like would be different perhaps for heach person. For me, I stood in silence, sometimes sending "metta" (lovingkindness practice) to the police, the President, the demonstrators, myself. And I initiated singing together whenever I could either be heard, or the energy felt so volatile that I knew something need to change.

Wonderully, the music did accomplish a change in energy, over nad over. Singing together brought a unity, harmony and groundedness that that I know helped many people (who said so). So the tone would shift for awhile, the power of song claiming us all and evening out our ragged spirits and energies. Then another upswell of shouting and anger, then more song. So I guess all the ways of public speech were covered!

Most moving was a group of young adults/late teens who have completed a cross country walk for peace, and were in the crowd, singing, drumming, and later, planning to be arrested as a culmination of their journey. With support from some seasoned jailbirds (pink and otherwise) the youth were guided toward a form of civil disobedience (crossing the yellow tape and sitting on the sidewalk) that would garner the best media attention and the presence of many witnesses to protect them.

At one point they all sat on the curb, the crowd closed in yelling and jostling, the police began to push the young people- it looked like a bad moment.

I was upset and scared, and all I could think to do was sing! (Never a bad idea). SO I began singing "We are a gentle angry people" alone, and a few other voices joined, then a megaphone materialised, and in a few seconds we were all singing this beautiful Holly Near anthem of heartbroken and hopeful peace. It completely changed the mood- the police backed off, we protesters came together in beauty and harmony, we sequed into Down By The Riverside,. the police took down the yellow tape, we occupied the forbidden sidewalk and danced and sang joyfully for quite ahile. I approached one of the police who seemed to be a leader, and just spoke personally about my reason for being there, and appreciating him for patience, a tough night, and just saying we were all there doing what we were meant to do, trying to be the best people we can be. He smiled- he had a very gently face- and basically said- "its all good- no problems". The eventual arrest of the young people was done with great care, coordination between this Sergeant and Meda Benjamin and the youth, more singing, and a very peaceful conclusion to the evening.

Never underestimate the power of song! Al Jazir English TV interviewed me- the cameraman was great, stayed the whole evening, got everything- and I had the opportunity to speak about the role of civil disobedience in movements in America (including Suffrage, labor, Civil Rights), and how song and singing was a vital part of every social change movement we know.

Now, off to visit congresspeople this morning, and hbe part of Code Pinks' farewell party for Gonzales this afternoon. Thanks for reading, and do write me back!

In Peace-

Thursday, September 13, 2007

First Day in DC- into action!

Dear Friends, well, nothing like hitting the ground running.

Arrived in the evening and before long we were crammed in the tiny living room singing -great sound, great women. We began planning actions for the next day, as we watched Jon Stewart IDaily Show) dis Code Pink for disrupting the Petraeus hearings. Too bad, John. Funny, how someone who makes his living pilloring public figures and spoofing the powers that be doesn't have more respect for WOMEN, women's voices and ways of acting. I admire the risks he takes on camera, but there is another level of risk in standing up in a Senate "hearing" (charade- rubber stamp) and essentially pointing out that the Emperor not only has no clothes but is depriving people at home and aborad of clothes, food, shelter, and their very lives.

Today we went to a panel at the (right wing) Heritage Foundation, presenting the usual array of conservative pundits ( some of whom were instrumental in initiating this war.It was a live broadcast on CSPAN. Meda Benjamin (co-founder of Code PInk) Carlos Arredondo, the father of a soldier killed in Iraq, and myself took over the stage after the panel was introduced. Medea spoke eloquently, Carlos spoke of his son, and I sang. We were, of course, ejected, but felt we had made a strong statement. Later in the program another of our members, Desiree, took to the stage again in a powerful speak out about the human cost of the war. I cried watching it later on video. To hear passion, truth, heart, and power so combined moves me deeply. You can see it on CSPAN 2 (online hopefully), and clips will be on UTube any minute- google Code Pink+ Heritage, or go to the and click on blog.

Tonight Bush delivers his endorsement of the Petraeus report (which I believe is really the Bush report in the mouths of his military spokesperson). We will probably be leafleting and singing outside.
Tomorrow we are having a farewell party outside the Justice Department to celebrate Gonzales' last day on the job.

I"ll try to mount some pictures soon of some of the faces with the names.

Being involved in this way is a challenge for me. I am not a strong believer in confrontationl approaches that create more discord and enmity. I would like to be able to speak clearly and compassionately with any human being- and after we were ejected I did my best to do just that in a conversation with a very angry organizer of the Heritage event. I keep asking myself- who am I really trying to communicate with? The politicians and pundits? Or my sisters and brothers here and around the world, who I want to energize and inspire by being a witness and a voice in a very visceral and direct way. My belief is that the "powers", the government, etc derives its power from us- they will continue in their business as usual mode as long as they feel the majority of the people won't REALLY make life difficult, interfere with the daily economic life of the country. If enough of the public can be moved to action- a National Strike, a shut down of some kind, some version of Gandhi's salt march to the sea- or perhaps, if enough representatives really feel their job is in jeopardy if they don't bring this war to a speedy close, things can change.

What do you think? How do you feel about the kinds of actions Code Pink is doing? Any suggestions for how I can be of use while here?I really welcome you comments-

Peace and blessings- Betsy

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Day of departure

Its 5:30 Am, and I'll be boarding a plane to DC in a few hours. Just one day after the anniversary of 9/11. For those of you who haven't been receiving emails about the inspiration and intention of this trip with Code Pink, I"ll enclose a snippet below of what I've sent aroumd to my lists.

Tonight I'll go to Code Pink house, a rental house neat the Capitol that can sleep about 20-25 women ( or at least provide space to lie down- I'm not sure how much sleeping goes on!). From there we find out what hearings are happening and what Copde Pink events, actions, gatherings are in the work. Some will be visiting their rep's (more likely their aides) to press on the vital imprtance of funding only that whichi will draw this desperately destructive and wrongheaded US war to a speedy finish. I also want to bring up with those I speak to the specter of an Iran attach, which is clearly in the works.

I am as ready as I can be. The support that has poured in since I sent my first email about my decision to join Code Pink thsi week has been phenomenal. Ehanks to all! I know I carry many many voices and spirits with me. I represent you , as others have reprecsented me all these years as they've traveled to South Aftrica, to Bosnia, to Nicaragua, to be directo bodies on the ground (and minds and haearts) working for freedom and justice nad peace.. Now its my turn to be the one to pick up, drop the daily life, leave the familiarity behind, and go take a (small) risk.

Gotta go. read on for background.

(From previous emails about this journey)
Recently I've felt called to bring songs and singing to Code Pink (the
women's activist /peace group that started after 9/11) events in the Bay
Area,such as the hunger strikes and peace encampments at Dinae Fenistein
and Nancy Pelosi's houses. This Wednesday morning I leave to join them
in Washington DC for a week
of activism, focusing on the next congressional vote about funding the war
YET AGAIN. I feel moved to go the extra mile in this time, and put my
body and spirit a little closer to the direct encounter with the "powers and
principalities" of this country. I'm excited, apprehensive, very curious,
and ready to learn, and give and grow.
My intention is to bring the kind of musical power and healing that
fueled so many social justice movements before, songs I've been writing
and singing for years in various movements and groups amd spiritual
settings.,Some Healing, some feisty, some sacred, some rousing- the