Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cindy Sheehan's Resignation

I'm still in the musing phase of trying to understand the implications of Cindy Sheehan's resignation from a life of activism. Bless her heart, you can hardly blame her. She lost a son. I can't even look at the kind of pain head-on; it's too terrifying. And then, how defeating to know that he died for absolutely nothing. How much worse does that make the grieving process? How much courage did it take (and where did she find it?) to stand up and try to make his death more meaningful?

And why quit now? She had to, I think.

She's on to something here.

"This system forcefully resists being helped and eats up the people who try to help it. I am getting out before it totally consumes me or anymore people that I love and the rest of my resources."

"The system" started protecting itself in a very particular way the second she became the accidental face of the anti-war movement. Systemic change doesn't require any one person. It requires someone, many someones actually, but not a particular person. If we agree with the person, we crown her "saviour of the movement", hoping that she can show us the way. Except we have a lousy history of crucifying saviors; we set them up to fail by forcing them to be one-dimensional. Crowning someone is just another way of abrogating our own responsibility for the movement. If we disagree with the person, the temptation is to set up a straw-man-savior. When that person is worn thin by activism, QED... the movement failed.

Except both of those positions are nonsense. We want people to know more that we do, to see more clearly, to show us the way. Yet we don't get that very often in this world. Nor should we really want it. Instead, we should keep our hearts alert, keep our eyes open, and use our brains. If all of these nudge us towards anti-war activity, the form of that activity will be uniquely ours.

Bring the gifts that you offer to the table. The movement has always needed them. And should anyone offer, resist the inclination to become the poster child for any movement or group. We'll be only too happy, unfortunately, to chew you up and spit out the bones.

And, in the meantime, thank you for your work, Cindy. Go. Parent your children. Rest. Grieve. We'll take it from here. You're welcome back whenever you feel up to it.

1 comment:

Lisa :-] said...

I was disturbed at the news as well. I couldn't help but think that the Bush/Republican/Conservative machine is much more powerful and all-pervasive than we want to believe. It's going to take a lot more than we have so far mustered to loose their hold on this country. Witness the Democrtic Congress' cave-in on war-funding....