The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date: December 12, 2003
In an icy drizzle, patriots gather for truth and peace
By THOMAS C. FOX
Dear Peace and Justice Progressives,
We celebrated our 41st consecutive Tuesday Satyagraha rally tonight on the grass at 63rd and Ward Parkway. Fifteen of us participated tonight, facing cool weather, early darkness and sprinkles, and we were rewarded with an unusually large amount of supportive honks from passersby.
So wrote Roger Goldblatt, a Kansas City, Mo., peace activist who looks to Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian pacifist, as an example to follow in difficult times. Goldblatt, 53, is too young to remember Gandhi, who led India out of colonialism in the 1940s. He, like countless others around the globe, continues to be influenced by Gandhis thought and writings.
Though Im no pacifist, Goldblatt said, while standing near the headlights of passing cars last week, I find the Gandhian idea of Satyagraha, or truth-force, to be compelling.
Twice weekly Goldblatt, a social worker, uses the Internet to send e-mails to some 125 people, mostly activists from the Kansas City area, to inform them of upcoming peace-related events while encouraging their participation.
Gandhi wrote extensively about Satyagraha throughout his life, and it became the means of his nonviolent path. At one point, he described Satyagraha as nothing but the introduction of truth and gentleness in the political or national life.
Goldblatt, echoing Gandhi, says he is convinced that Americans are decent people and if enough of them were fully informed about U.S. policy in Iraq, what motivates it and its impact on the Iraqi people, that they, like him, would resist the war. Thats what the power of truth is all about, Goldblatt explained. He said he feels the corporate media has let the nation down. He says they accept Bush policies far too uncritically. Moreover, they support those policies because they are motivated by the same economic interests that led the United States, under Bush, to invade Iraq.
Standing from 5 to 6 in the late afternoon darkness last week under icy drizzle, Goldblatt held a large sign. It called for the boycott of the Fox News Channel, owned by Rupert Murdoch, ranked by Forbes magazine as the fourth most powerful billionaire in the world. Goldblatt said Fox News is the most partisan supporter of Bush policy, failing repeatedly to question the war while working to gain support for the occupation.
Each Tuesday a dozen or so war protesters gather at 63rd and Ward Parkway, in a wealthy neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., to make their case. I asked Goldblatt why he came out every Tuesday.
I protest, he responded, to maintain a sense of honesty and integrity.
After 41 Tuesdays, standing among a relative few, just two to three feet from passing cars, the protest appears courageous and lonely.
The protesters, over the months, have endured a fair share of obscenities and have had eggs and lighted cigarettes thrown at them.
Goldblatt says he wont give up. He is a Jew who seems to live out of an Old Testament sense of justice. When not at home writing in his journal, or sharing his thoughts through e-mails, he can be found greeting homeless guests at the front door of the Holy Family Catholic Worker House in midtown Kansas City. The house is run by Br. Louis Rodemann of the De La Salle Christian Brothers, who leads volunteers in feeding some 300 persons six nights a week.
Rodemann, like Goldblatt and dozens of other Kansas Citians, has been working to draw attention to the suffering of the Iraqi people and the consequences of U.S. policies there for several years. Rodemann and other local Catholic Workers come to their war resistance out of the Christian tradition of nonviolence.
In Kansas City, as elsewhere around the nation, clergy and religious are instrumental in giving life and direction to the antiwar movement.
When the history of the early 21st century eventually gets written, it will likely be noted that the then-emerging global antiwar movement not only was lifted by the various pacifist traditions among the worlds religions, but also that their common actions drew those traditions closer together.
His head and cheeks covered in a knitted cap, Goldblatt stood under his sign, looking into advancing headlights of a seemingly endless stream of automobiles hustling home from work. He was not pondering any wider meaning that might be afforded his action.
Id rather not be out here, Goldblatt said, shrugging off discouragement. Id rather be doing many other things.
We see ourselves as patriots. We see ourselves as trying to help America and the world. We see ourselves as trying to get the word out, to let people know they are not alone, to show people who are in solidarity with our point of view that there are other people
Patriots in an emerging global family.
Fox is NCR publisher and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To be included on Roger Goldblatts e-mail list, contact him at email@example.com.
National Catholic Reporter, December 12, 2003
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