I woke up the morning of March 17th to a cell phone message I received from one of my close friends asking me whether or not I was going to be attending the rally that was going to be held in DC. Although I don’t always believe in a thing called “dumb questions”, this however, was one of them. I believe strongly in the power of protesting and have attended countless protests, from ones dealing with US intervention in Kosovo (when I was very young), the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and of course added to the list is the Iraq war. This rally was an important one and I was not going to miss it, as the continuing escalation of violence, death, and destruction can not continue without protest.
As we marched over the Memorial Bridge, we were confronted with some pro-war protestors. Although I tried my best to ignore them, I couldn’t help but notice the various chants they were screaming; “jeeeeehaaad, jeeeehaaad” was just one of them. It didn’t make any sense why someone would be chanting such a word… what is jihad supposed to mean in this context? Are we “jihadists” because we don’t agree with the president’s policy of occupying countries and being the cause of death and destruction on both sides? Do these people know what they’re saying or are they simply hearing sound bites on television and regurgitating them in sentences that don’t make sense?
All of this angered me but I kept looking at our crowd, where the old, the young, the crippled, and the healthy all showed up to stand up for peace in freezing cold weather. I looked to the father who was pulling behind him a coffin to symbolize his son who died in the fighting. I looked to the mother who around her neck were the boots worn by her son as a soldier before he died. I looked to the brothers and sisters of fallen soldiers. I looked to myself and found that no matter what goes wrong in this world, there will always be people who will stand up for peace and justice and seek positive change in this world. After all, we are the people…we are the deciders.