rn: Sun rising on a new era (A16)


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

I have just finsihed reading Carolyn Ballard's latest "@ odds" column.

My eyes are warm, because like Carolyn, I sense the wonder of our power to
act non-violently for good, what author (_Allow the Water_) Len desroches
calls dunamis. But it is also partly simply because of a strange
coincidence. Carolyn describes watching the sunrise and her Easter
thoughts... They parallel my own April 16 experience, for that is the day
when I happened to be in quite a state emotionally and a local gas station
owner told me of how he watches the sun rise and the rather mystical
experience it is for him.  A couple days ago I decided to use that story for
a "column" I do for a local paper, called "Enviro-ideas". I'll copy it below

all the best, Jan
From: "Carolyn Ballard" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Fw: @ Odds Column - May Issue
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 17:26:36 -0700

@ Odds

In Washington, DC, the day dawned cool and overcast with sporadic light rain
on Sunday, April 16. Known simply as A16 among the activist community, the
day that was supposed to become an historic milestone for democracy was
starting out inauspiciously, I feared.

Like thousands of other concerned citizens, I had come to the nation's
capitol to exercise my First Amendment right to speak out peacefully against
the dangers and inequities of the steamroller of capitalist globalization.
After driving through the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia in a
steady torrential rain all night without sleep, my friend, her daughter and
I arrived at the international youth hostel on 11th Avenue about midday to
find that the hostel had been overbooked. The group of 11 Winthrop students
with which we were affiliated had been sent to stay at a Lutheran church
housing protestors several blocks away, we learned from the leader of the
group from UNC-Chapel Hill. The Winthrop and UNC-C student groups had
combined forces to plan and coordinate a joint effort for the DC protest.

Discovering that his group had three hostel beds unspoken for, the UNC-C
leader graciously gave us the option of staying at the hostel with his group
or joining the Winthrop students at the Lutheran church. Exhausted and
frazzled from our journey, we quickly decided that the first option was the
most appealing. That decision proved to be a fateful one.

Slithering cautiously from my top bunk before the first light of dawn the
next morning, I quietly dressed as my 11 other roommates slept peacefully
and then set out to find a very large cup of coffee. Ironically, my quest
ended three blocks away at that icon of globalizing capitalism - McDonald's.
Other ironies would soon follow.

Feeding my dual addictions of cigarettes and coffee, I stood on the sidewalk
outside the hostel and watched as the city awakened and came alive. The
riot-geared police were everywhere, and the drone of police helicopters and
sirens kept up a constant cacophony the entire weekend. I felt like I was in
a police state rather than the capitol of the leader of the free world. 

As the morning wore on, I watched uncomfortably as buses with siren-blaring
police car escorts in front and behind raced down the streets. And in the
city that should be the "shining city on the hill" beckoning all the world's
downtrodden with the hope of democracy and economic freedom, the hordes of
Washington's homeless who were crawling from beneath their plastic and
cardboard shelters that morning were perhaps the starkest irony. They were
the witnesses to the lie that we and the thousands like us had come to protest.

As the hours ticked by before the 11 a.m. rally at the Ellipse, I could feel
my outrage growing at a System that would so brutally disenfranchise the
most vulnerable, treat people and Earth's natural resources as mere
commodities and grant prosperity and power to an elite minority. I felt even
more justified in my outrage, when we learned that the Winthrop students
along with more than 600 others had been arrested the night before for
peacefully demonstrating against the Prison-Industrial System. In addition,
a commando squad of DC police and federal marshals earlier that night had
shut down the central command post of the demonstrators on the pretense of a
fire code violation. As one frequently seen bumper sticker put it: "If
you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."

By 10:30 a.m., my friends and I and the 20 or so members of our
newly-adopted UNC-C group had assembled in front of the hostel in
preparation for the march to the Ellipse. In anticipation of meeting with
the same tear gas attacks from police as fellow protestors had met with in
Seattle months earlier, we all carried vinegar-soaked bandanas to combat the
effects of the acidic-based gas. A legal advisor assigned to our group by
the national organizing team went through our ranks and wrote the phone
number to call in case of arrest in indelible marker on our forearms. I
couldn't help but observe that we looked more like escapees from a Nazi
concentration camp than peaceful protestors.

Almost magically, the cloud cover and rain rapidly gave way, replaced by a
cloudless sky and warm sunshine. It seemed like an auspicious omen. With the
huge brown-skinned papier-mache face and hand of an anonymous Third-Worlder
borne by students at the head of our group, we began our six-block march to
the Ellipse to join the gathering thousands. The signs we carried spoke to
the inequities of the one System that we were protesting: "Women of Faith
Against the Greed of Capitalism," "Jobs with Justice," "The WTO Rapes the
Planet," "Stop the War Against the Poor." Slowly, as the energy of our march
and the certain knowledge of the justness of our cause built, a student
drummer began to tap out a cadence for the chant that we took up: "Ain't no
power like the power of the people, and the power of the people don't stop!"

It was a chant that was to be heard over and over again, as the assembled
thousands began the long protest march around the perimeter of the Ellipse
three hours later. Teamsters and turtles, church groups, environmentalists,
political and social activists of all stripes, veterans, young and old . we
were all there to put the System on notice that we are paying attention, and
we are outraged by what we see - a world order being constructed on the
principle of greed. 

On the Sunday following A16, I found myself once again greeting the dawn of
a momentous day. Standing on a boardwalk on the beach of the Isle of Palms,
SC, another friend and I had come to celebrate our own private Easter
sunrise service. As the blood red orb of the sun burst forth over the vast
horizon of the sea, the beauty and grandeur of Creation moved me like no
sermon could. Contemplating the deep meanings of resurrection, my thoughts
turned to the events of the previous weekend, the words of our chant
reverberating through my mind.

The power of people is unique in Creation. We alone have the power to think
and act rationally and logically. The economic and political system that we
have created is based on the power and appeal of greed. Such a system will
ultimately destroy people morally, spiritually and physically. With its
innate imperative for unlimited growth and profits, it will surely destroy
our habitat. 

"The power of the people don't stop" . until it is taken away by the tyranny
of the few or runs headlong into the power of Creation. The hope then
becomes the hope of resurrection. That was the message of A16 that I
contemplated on Easter Sunday. The old system must die that a new might
live. The power of the people is the power to choose. 

                 (c) Carolyn Ballard (2000)
                - Republication permission granted for
                 non-commercial and small-press use under "fair use"

ENVIRO-IDEAS  (for Clare Shopper)


nature is crucially important. Mayflowers are in bloom; bend down & smell...
but if you pick, take care to leave lots behind & especially not rip out the

Art Rice of Weymouth on the sunrise:
"Just in case you might feel agnostic, then watching rising of the sun [with
a welder's helmut to protect your eyes!] might change your mind... I look at
it and appreciate where I am. I also look at it as a miracle... These are
quiet times that teach you not to take things for granted."

la nature c'est d'une importance cruciale. Les fleurs de mai nous offrent
une odeur sans pareil, mais si vous en cueillez, n'en prenez pas trop et
surtout, n'arrachez pas les racines.

Art Rice, de Weymouth, commente le lever de soleil :
"...Je le regarde [avec un casque de soudeur pour me protéger les yeux!] et
j'apprécie où je me trouve. J'y vois également un miracle... Ce sont des
moments de tranquilité quand on apprend à ne pas prendre le monde pour aquis."
Creo que el mundo es bello, 
que la poesía es como el pan, 
de todos. 

(I believe the world is beautiful
and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone)

Roque Dalton

Jan Slakov, Box 35, Weymouth, NS, Canada B0W 3T0  (902) 837-4980
 CDR (Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance) home page ->


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