It was just approaching 8 AM , on a Thursday morning. The sun was assuming control over the skies, on a rather chilly November morning for Central Florida ( refreshing to a transplant from NYC ). As I opened the blinds to my kitchen windows, I could see a slew of nice cars and SUVs nestling my driveway. Ah, I realized, my neighbors next door had sold their condo and were having a garage sale. I could see very prudently dressed senior citizens scurrying from their vehicles to my neighbor's yard. Here it was, minutes, literally minutes after the start of a garage sale, in some average neighborhood in an average middle class town in Florida. And they were coming from all over! Most of the parking spots available near my condo were saturated with 60 something and 70 something folks all looking for a bargain.
Flashback to Tuesdays at 4:30 PM, on a busy corner in the same town. For 25 months straight, a handful of us have been out there in protest to this war on Iraq. We stand, side by side, each and every Tuesday, for but one hour. Most of those who join me ( I'm 50 something ) are senior citizens, just like those folks who ascended on my block for that garage sale. After 25 months, totaling 100 Tuesdays of protest, we are lucky if we attract 15-20 people on that corner. Yet, just for an ad in a local paper, my neighbor's yard sale topped that figure. Garage sale! War on Iraq! Which is more important? Which affects our lives, our pocketbooks, more? So, someone saves $ 5 or $ 10 or even $ 50 dollars by checking out the garage sales around town. Don't get me wrong; I believe in the concept and the practice of the garage sale. To me, anytime we can shop and trade goods without going through some corporate boxstore behemoth, all power to us. Yet, what about priorities?
For one hour a week, the overwhelming majority of this town cannot see fit to come stand on a street corner and express themselves. The constitution and the Bill of Rights affords us freedom of speech and free assembly. To me, if folks can run out of their homes before 8 AM and hurry to find garage and yard sales, they can afford one hour a week for freedom of expression With the daily impact of this (three plus year) war, most people have some viewpoint. Either they would be for or against, yes? For or against this war, for or against this president. I respect either point of view if it is backed up by some sort of action. When we stand on that corner, for our one hour a week, in protest to Bush/Cheney and their war, we ask " Where are the demonstrators supporting it ?" Instead of merely honking and giving a thumbs up, or doing the opposite, why not park and stand for something? To we who oppose these policies, there are American kids dying every day for a bunch of liars and lies. There are Iraqis, by the hundreds of thousands, whose names we do not report in our newspapers, dead. There is $ 400 billion already given to the War Industries- money that could have gone for better roads and better schools, and more police, fire, teachers and health workers. Our money, the tax money of those seniors who scurry to and from garage sales, wasted! Spent to support Haliburton, Bechtel, General Dynamics and the rest of the Bush crew donors. Yet, silence from the public. We shout each week from our street corner: " Election day is right here, right now. Join us and vote with your feet."
America is made up of thousands of towns and municipalities. Each day, there are countless garage and yard sales going on. Wonderful. I love it! Its people coming together and dealing face to face, person to person. Let's hope that fairly soon we see the growth of free speech and free assembly, before our leaders garage sale it to the highest bidder. " Silence in the face of tyranny gives it license."
philip a farruggio is a small businessman, columnist and activist leader. the son and grandson of Brooklyn longshoremen, he is a graduate of Brooklyn college ( BA, Speech and Theater '74). he can be reached at email@example.com