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Countervailing Power the Only Solution (note to an activist)

Message Rafe Pilgrim

Dear Xxxxx,

Please accept my heartfelt identity with your cause.  Please also consider my sincere reservations with your tactics in light of our shared passion for the slaughter to stop and for our government to become an instrument for peace in the world and decency for its own citizens.


Few honorable people could take issue with your objective, your endeavor to surmount the difficulties of organization and planning, the imagination summoned to fortify your message, and the courage it will take to confront the power of government, the complicity of the media, and the criticism of the unenlightened puppets of propaganda.

The plan for the demonstration in January is impressive, every bit as impressive it would seem as any in the past six years.  It is destined, however, to suffer the same fate as the best of those, that is to come short of making the real difference that's needed to stop the treachery and to gain the peace.  It will become -- lamentably -- another fine example of conscience and courage put down by overwhelming power.  And I would submit, as sensitively as I can, that another display of conscience, even of moral outrage is not what the good citizens, the decent people, or what America needs.  What we need -- after six years of treacherous government -- is finally to win !   And what is needed to win against such determined and entrenched power is not a seventh year of protest but countervailing power. 
Several years ago, a group of us entrained from Florida to D.C. for what was, I believe, the biggest protest of the Iraq War era.  There were 400,000 on the Mall, including such as Jesse Jackson, Cindy Sheehan and other assorted luminaries, perhaps including you.  It was a grand show, with hundreds of porta-johns neatly lined up to accommodate us, and barely a cop in evidence.  (I'm told they were there, discretely stationed nearby "just in case they were needed," and now I sometimes uncharacteristically wish that perhaps we should have behaved to make that necessary.)
I was interviewed three times, each time by a foreign news agency.  If major American media were there, I did not notice them.  I did notice subsequently, however, that our media lied about our numbers, starting with a total of 60,000 the following Monday, then over the course of a week's time incrementally admitting their way up to the actual number.
Where did this all lead?  We went home Sunday, feeling good.  The media gave the endeavor scant notice, perhaps Page 8, Section B.  Bushco and Congress came back to town Monday and resumed business and their treachery as usual, and nothing changed except that most of us soon stopped feeling good when we realized that our high hopes and enthusiasm had been dashed and that our grand effort was just another failure.  We had not dinted the treachery one whit.
But we learned something, and that is that treacherous power responds only to countervailing power.  Even our 400,000 were insufficient to the task, and forget moral suasion with the treacherous and cowardly ilk we would confront.  Our second lesson was that we left the confrontation too soon, that weekend endeavors were bound to fail.  What we learned in summary was that to win beyond salving our moral conscience, to prevail in the necessary political struggle against a rotten regime,  we will need massive confrontation and to hold our ground until our objective is attained.
And, my friend, after six years of tokenism in the face of historically disgraceful conduct by our government, winning now is inarguably imperative.  What will it take to win?  It will take upwards of a million citizens in place at the seat of power, and those citizens must stay in place for however long it takes until the objectives of gaining the Peace and regaining our Bill of Rights are assured. 
What it does not take is an elaborate show, peace org competition, nuanced messages, peace celebrities and weekend moralists -- just one million-plus plain grim citizens gathered at the seat of power and not leaving (for weeks?  months?) until decency takes hold in our government. 
The urgency to do this now springs from the very real possibilities that our government might very well attack elsewhere (Iran?  Syria?  North Korea?  Venezuela?) or that Russia may take offensive action in response to our missile sites in their neighboring countries, or that a consortium of the decent governments of the world will decide they can no longer afford our misbehavior, or perhaps even the citizens of our own country (at last!) deciding such, but I must admit that what drives me personally is my abhorrence of the conduct and the character of the government I loved as a schoolboy and in whose military I served for nine years.
With it all, I believe that there is still some time to do this non-violently, which would be my preference and I believe to be the preference of the grand majority of those who suffer for the Peace.  But we must comprehend that our time is running out, and we cannot afford the chance of yet another historical shock.
What I would ask of you is this:  After your endeavor in early January, and the restoration of your moral juices, please respond to this entreaty to help in achieving the mass and the duration necessary to make the actual difference.
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Rafe Pilgrim, after "a life largely wasted on hard honest work," found himself a jungle of turkey oak, scrub pine and giant palmettos up a dirt road running east of Crystal River, Florida, which neither school busses nor the U.S. Postal Service dare (more...)
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