My Films

Monday, June 20, 2005

Why We Protest

Why we protest by Megumi Nishikura (I wrote this in April 2003)

Having been to three protests (2 in NYC, 1 in DC) and several community meetings and panel discussions this is what I discern: People are protesting for a variety reasons: From opposing the US military imperialism that affects countries around the world (thousands of troops occupy Japan, Korea, Philippines to name a few) to true pacifists who believe violence is not the answer. There are people who are angry, who will get arrested, who will barricade streets, and there are people who are just trying to voice their opinions and stand up for what they believe in a peaceful manner.

As an independent media activist, I have been speaking to a number of protesters and their opinions are all varied. Just like those who support the war, nothing is black and white. Even the “liberated" people of Iraq vary: some feel free from Saddam's oppression, while others are morning the loss of their family members due to Shock and Awe. I believe that I am patriotic (despite what war-supporters have called us). I am exercising my rights as a citizen more than ever before. I protest this war (and not protest-ed because I believe we are still at war) not because I think Saddam should stay in power. Not because I don’t have some anxiety about another 9-11 occurring (I live in NYC) or that a county that supposedly harbors weapons of mass destruction should go unnoticed (though we are the largest creators/suppliers of these weapons) And not because I don’t support my troops.

Instead, I protest this war, and all wars, because I have a higher vision of humanity. I believe that war is an outdated means of achievement, that we can achieve massive change through peaceful discourse. Though the Bush Administrations intentions may be peace, are we any different than Saddam by using military force and killing people to achieve it? A nation as powerful as ours should lead by example.

Why do we honor the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.? They preached non-violence and made amazing strides in breaking old paradigms and changed world ideologies. Why do their messages resonate with us? Whether you have supported this war or not, the most important thing in the current outcome, is to focus on what positive can be achieved.

Our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, are not just in our coalition troops but are also the Iraqi people. Let us hope that the people in our administration will honor the Iraqi people wishes. And as US citizen let our voices be heard that humanitarian aid is given quickly and plentiful. May we send our own wishes that the through all the terror of the first Gulf War, 12 years of UN Sanctions and Operation Iraqi freedom, that the hearts of Iraqi people will one day heal-fully.

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