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Marching for Peace, Working for Peace

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Remarks of NOW President

On this important day, as we prepare to march for peace, justice and democracy, I want to echo some of the voices of women -- diverse voices that have been largely absent in the media coverage of peace and justice issues.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it." And one of my favorite comics, Elayne Boosler, famously commented that, "When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country." Have you noticed that when something is really funny, it's often because there's a grain of truth in it?

Around the world, women are the peacemakers in every culture, perhaps because we are thinking about the future of our children -- and the future of other women's children. We're not the ones who solve our disputes, be they small or large, with fists and guns.

That's why the National Organization for Women is marching today, joined by many thousands who care about equality, justice, democracy, and peace. Women cannot stand by while our daughters and sons are dying -- whether our own, sent across the ocean to fight, or the children of Iraqi mothers, whose hearts bleed just the same. We cannot stand by while Katrina survivors, who have endured so many broken promises from this government, continue to wait for the help every one of us would expect. And we cannot ignore the threats to our democracy that are coming from within: the voter purges, the intimidation, the dirty tricks, the riggable voting machines. And that's just the beginning.

Too many people in this country, and some of them are running our government, think "justice" means "just us" -- but if we are to be a truly great nation, we must share both the bounty and the responsibility. Most of the soldiers dying in Iraq come from families that haven't benefited one whit from the Republican giveaway to those earning $400,000 a year or more. They haven't benefited from the war economy that has enriched the oil barons and those who make their profits building tanks and bombs.


But they are dying for those profits. Many of them are the very immigrants whose hard work and sacrifice is belittled on Fox news and by CNN's Lou Dobbs every day. Many of them will never be able to go to college, and are discriminated against when they look for a job or a house. Yet they are dying, we are told, to preserve the "American dream." Well we have a different dream, but it's rarely shown on the media, or covered in the news. Why is that?

There's an African proverb that goes something like this: Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters. Looking at that a little differently, while men are running the news -- the news will continue to glorify what men are doing -- and that means warmaking and not peacemaking. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice's Johnson's words speak volumes today:

" . . . the pain is so deep and the need for healing is so great that women can not afford to be absent from the peace tables of the world -- from negotiating peace, to laying foundations that provide for feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and providing health care for the hurting. With no intent to paint a halo on women, I still believe as a mother, that we, who are bearers of life, do not birth sons and daughters only to see them die on the battlefields of war."

That is why, when we leave today, each of us must take up this struggle for peace -- individually and collectively. It is part of our larger struggle to demand equality from those who would have us sit quietly in the shadows. We owe it to the women in Iraq, to the survivors on the Gulf Coast and across the country, and to our daughters for whom we want full equality, to raise our voices even louder after we leave New York City today.

When women's stories are told, when our perspectives are part of the debate, we will be closer to peace, justice, and democracy. And in the words of Betty Williams, when she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, "Someday they'll call a war, and nobody will come."

 

Kim Gandy was re-elected to her second term as President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) on July 3, 2005. She was first elected President in 2001, after serving as Executive Vice President since 1991 and National Secretary from 1987 to 1991. (more...)
 

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