Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Get A Job!" vs "Save Your Future!"


It's was sort of Spinal Tap. I sure thought so when we gathered in front of City Hall in downtown San Luis Obispo early Tuesday morning.

That was the day that The Monk was walking from City Hall to the gates of Diablo Canyon. We had been posting messages for days, encouraging others to join us. I had no idea who might show up.

Activist Chikako and I arrived first. There was no crowd in front of City Hall, but maybe individuals were hiding until it looked like something might be happening.

Maybe that guy over there at the bus station is a "could be" participant. Or that one over there, hanging out on the corner.

They weren't. In fact, the only other people to show up were The Monk, The Artist who was housing The Monk, and The Native American Activist.

This is the reality. Despite Fukushima having nuked half the world forever; despite decades of pain and suffering in all aspects of the nuclear industry from mining to processing to storage of nuclear waste; despite the horrors of HIroshima and Nagasaki, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl; despite generations saddled with birth defects caused directly by the depleted uranium in dirty bombs; despite the fact that our future is so on the edge it's probably over it… Despite all of that, most people just don't care. Many just don't know. Others know some but not much. Still others know (or suspect) but they don't think it's as bad as it is. And there are always the handful who seriously believe that no matter what the source or amount of radiation, it's all a-okay.

That is our reality and it was a tiny kick to my gut. (I am also realizing that there must have been many people who wanted to but couldn't participate because of jobs. But knowing how many retirees are in our community…hmmm.)

We were all a bit disappointed but that didn't dampen our conviction or our commitment. The struggle is a long one and those who have been fighting for decades have been able to find their own motivation for what they do.

The Native Activist performed a prayer, burning cedar instead of sage. "Cedar represents the east, so for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I am using cedar instead of sage," she explained, 

Our tiny, motley crew was joined by another activist a few miles down. I love these women! They are not your ordinary mothers and grandmothers. They are FIERCE and FEARLESS, yet seem to be such spectacular peacemakers. I am so curious about who they are, it's all I can do to hold back from poking and prodding out all their past details. But that's a whole 'nuther story.

We took turns walking and driving.
We stopped at a local charter school (closed for the summer) for lunch and were joined by our German nuclear waste expert and his lovely wife.
We all walked the last mile or so to the gates of hell. I mean, gates of Diablo Canyon. We had grown to the magical number 7, the exact number of syllables in The Monk's chant: Na-mu-myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo.

Avila Beach was hopping with tourists and campers, the entire stretch of road lined with huge, expensive RVs.

In a small space between the monster RVs, The Monk stood, banging his drum, chanting his chant. Most people hadn't a clue why we were there. Nor did they care.

One guy saw our No Nukes sign and said incredulously, "No nukes? What? You mean there're nukes here???"

Another man rode by and yelled "Get a job!" It was both sad and funny. It was funny because most of us were retired. We all had jobs. Most of us had wonderful careers. For The Monk, this was his job. It was sad because a job is nothing when there is no future. It was also sad thinking that this man probably would not have yelled that to someone who looked like a member of a Christian group (I am thinking, Catholic priest, Presbyterian minister, Baptist preacher and so on.) Sad, too, how there is a huge bias against religions other than Christianity. How many times have you snickered at a Hare Krishna group?

Humankind is such a dysfunctional group. It's no wonder we have the problems we have. Without changing who we are, collectively, can we really change the world? Can we really hope for a nuclear free future? Can we hope for world peace?

I have no answers, but I do know this. No matter how far away the goal, the only way towards it is step by step. And that's the prayer and lesson of a Peace Walk.

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