Breasts Not Bombs bares witness at the White House
If you are like me and you are informed by alternative news sources you may have moments of despair and hopelessness that may lead to depression, futility and general feelings of it doesn't matter what we do, we're doomed. The obscene and arrogant destruction of each other and the planet will go unchecked because no one has the power or energy to dismantle the corrupted systems of oppression. Even if we impeach Bush, then what? Even if we Indict Dick Cheney, then what? Our problems run through the blood streams and bones of this world. We need enormous global healing. That is what enticed me and four of my co-conspirators to run off to Camp Democracy this week. Yes, we are the ones who believe that love is stronger that fear. We are the ones who think music connects us all. We are the ones who see through the illusion into the possibilities that in some dimension we are already living the life we dream of. We are the ones we've been waiting for.
Camp Democracy was on the ellipse, tucked in the shadow of the Washington monument. It's canvas tents acted as a sanctuary for the memories of the dead and dying, and as a revelation of the corruption and the lying. Big bobble heads of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice sat on a table as though they had already been tried for war crimes and the executioner had had his day. Folks spent three weeks at Camp Democracy participating in non-violence workshops, listened to words of non-violent resistence from Ahrun Gandhi, Howard Zinn and Antonia Juhaz. Many went up to Capitol Hill to lobby for civil rights and Peace.
There were five women in our affinity group. A Pentagram. We came with the intention to entertain the folks who had been working for weeks to do something good for a change. I did some comedy and Diane Patterson debuted her new song, Camp Democracy for the weary workers. They were charmed, moved, happy that we had come. We were blessed to meet Peace Activists, Col. Ann Wright, Helga Aguayo, Iraqi War Vet Ellie Paintedcrow and many others. It was at Camp Democracy that we prepared for action. By the grace of the Goddess and a young man with a computer we were able to secure a large laminated STOP sign from Kinko's and fifty mini stop signs. We were going to do a "Stop Action" at the White House where we would hold up our signs and sing "Stop in the name of love before you break our hearts. Stop in the Name of Love before you break our hearts. Think it over." We did this action in solidarity with United for Peace and Justice and Code Pink.
On Thursday September 21st, which we now know as The International Day of Peace, we witnessed in Washington D.C. the signing of a declaration of Peace by religious leaders and anti-war activists that was to be delivered to George Bush. After all had signed the treaty they walked to the gates of the White House. Protesters were denied entrance, So,They sat down in an act of civil disobedience. It was then that I was given the honor of reading the names of the Iraqi dead while Lisa, a marine wife from Military Families Speak Out, read the names of the dead soldiers. After each name was spoken we would all say, "We remember". The names of the Iraqi's felt familiar in my mouth. The Arabic is close to Hebrew, the language I grew up hearing. I had about 25 pages in my hand and besides some of the names were the ages. Children; 2 years old, 5 years old, 10 years old, 6 months old,12 members of the Haseem Family, a man his wife and three children. It felt like Kadish, the Jewish Prayer for the dead. The recognition of genocide, punctured my heart. I could not read through my tears. I had to stop, take some rescue remedy, and breathe.
By this time the police were moving in to arrest the one's sitting down.
Those who chose not to be arrested were sent down the block to stand behind yellow police tape to simply witness and sing out about freedom and justice. When the bus left with our shackled comrades we peeled off our shirts and proceeded with our Breasts Not Bombs action. There is an amazing sense of Power to stand bare breasted in front of the white house. The Front door flew open and men stood with binoculars on the porch and the roof to gawk at us. There was no doubt they could also read the signs we held. War is indecent, Torture is indecent, War Profiteering is indecent.
A police officer came over to us and said, although it was our legal right to be topless, he wanted to remind us that there were children, families in the park. I said, hopefully all the children in the park had been breast fed, so they knew that breasts were about love, nourishment, and comfort and they would have nothing to be afraid of. But, as far as the snipers on top of the White House, well, maybe he should tell them to lay down their guns, because they were scaring the kids. At this point Medea Benjamin of Code Pink suggested he and I stand a bit closer together so she could get a better photo. The officer and his sidekick quickly dispersed. The crowd was amazed that the people who sat in silent dissent at the gate of the WH were arrested, while we stood half naked and were respected and enjoyed the right to protest. That was powerful.
From there we went to the capitol hill and visited Boxer and Feinstein's offices with suggestions on how to represent the good, kind, compassionate constituents of California. We demanded that Article Three of the Geneva Conventions remain International Law to be followed by the U.S. We demanded an immediate withdrawal of Troops from Iraq, We asked for a continued moratorium on oil drilling off California Coasts and we suggested that Both senators lead by example and drive alternative vehicles around the hill to show the country that they are aware of global warming and are taking bold steps to change our national consumption of fossil fuels.
Our final action took place on Friday morning, the beginning of Autumn equinox and a solar eclipse at 7:40 AM. As you may remember, the U.S. invaded Iraq on March 19th, the dawn of Spring. Those of us who live by the wheel of life, the turning of the seasons, see that as a high holy day and we chose to honor the equinox by using that potent time to call for the Fall, The fall of empire. Ten of us gathered at Lafayatte park at 7AM brooms in hand. We cast a circle, calling on the presence of Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Above, below and in the center. We burned the sage to purify our hearts, minds and intentions and then set about the action of ritual. We honored our fear and gave it breath and turned it into energy. We spoke our righteous anger moved it through every organ in our bodies to cleanse the fire from our systems and reclaim our passion. We shared our sorrow for the terrible, inconceivable loss and grief that we are witnessing on so many levels. After each emotion we took our brooms and swept the ground around us to clear the circle and turn the wheel in revolution
Finally, in our heightened states of clarity, we got on our broomsticks and flew all around the lawns in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. weaving our webs of wisdom, hope, joy and peace around that symbol of power, the White House. Seeing each other riding around on broomsticks caused us to cackle deliriously and delighted the hundreds of tourists just getting off the busses. It was a story they would be sure to tell. Witches at the White House.
Each person who participated in this ancient rite and prayer felt deeply renewed to continue the grueling work that brings about a better world. For it is in the realms of miracles and magic that we dwell, using powers that ,while may not be obvious, have been used since time has been recorded. Ritual, sacred space, prayer, intention and the belief that peace will come at any moment and it doesn't matter from which direction, It only matters that in our invocation we are the change we want to see.