Monday, February 08, 2016

"Awakening the Dreamer," But Not This One

Last week, I had seen in the paper information about a meeting of a "peace group" at the Ventura Library from 3 to 5 on Sunday, and I decided to attend. It's called "Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions" and I assumed it was a pacifist outfit.
It isn't, not really. I was greeted by a pleasant young woman--well, maybe in her forties--named Kristin Jensen and we chatted a bit. The meeting was in a very large room with a screen, laptop, projector setup, and chairs arranged in a circle. I was taken aback to see a man with a "Bernie 2016" tee shirt on. Talked with him for a bit and of course, he had the same old "lesser evil" thing going on. I mentioned that Sanders had said he'd continue Obama's drone murder program and this guy--Jim--said he had never heard of that program! I said it was in the NYTimes--he said I shouldn't believe everything I see in the Times. I said the information had been provided by the White House, that this isn't a secret, but he was still very skeptical; he said he didn't see it in the LATimes--talk about parochial! I asked for his e-mail address and said I'd send him the info. It's this kind of willful ignorance that makes me pretty much certain we ain't goin' nowhere when it comes to the "peace movement."
At 3:00, the meeting started. Kristin and a man who said he was a family practitioner (he may be Kristin's husband) conducted it and Kristin remarked several times she was thrilled that so many came; she had expected only six or seven. I counted 17 people, hardly a mob and that alone was telling. Even more so, I'm afraid, was that, just as at the Amnesty International letter-writing session, there surely wasn't an attendee under fifty and most were considerably older than that.
Part of the program was a video called "Awakening the Dreamer," but unfortunately, there were technical problems and it didn't get started until 3:30. Throughout the showing, it either stopped on its own, or the facilitators stopped it for various reasons. At one point, we were asked to form groups of four and come up with assumptions about people; presumably this was to emphasize--well, that we shouldn't make assumptions about people.
The video was one of those "we're all connected" things, heavy on dark-skinned people, animals in the forest, and if we have a roof over our heads and food in the fridge, we're luckier than lots of our connected brethren and cisterns (heh, heh). This dragged on and on and seemed sophomoric to me--very artsy, touchy-feely type stuff, dated and dull. Kristin is an eighth grade teacher and frankly, she and the doc, studiously sincere though they certainly are, seemed to think the group needed to be instructed as if we were, too. In fact, K. mentioned that she shows the video to her students.
The problem for me was, I had expected some kind of pacifist group and it really isn't. That's not to say it favors militarism, but along with a lot of other concerns, stated on cardboard with big letters, such as the environment, social and economic justice, it was skimmed over. Also, I didn't ask, but if the latter was one of their concerns, why was the evil Trans Pacific Partnership not even mentioned? Judging from Jim--I know I'm making an assumption--possibly, they didn't even know what it is.
The thing didn't end until quarter of six when we were asked to form a circle and yes, hold hands. Any minute, I expected we'd have to sing out Come Bye Ya, but no, a basket was passed around and each person got a crocheted bracelet from Peru. The doc then announced that their regular meeting, held on the first of each month, had been preempted in March by a group devoted to saving the earth from plastic throwaways. However, he urged people to go to that, as it was connected to...well, to all of us, I guess.
Okay, it was just sort of a wasted day, but at least I wasn't subjected to the Super Bowl.

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