Stop Singing, Start Doing

In the past couple of days, I have received e-mails from unrelated sources with the message, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." In addition, a blogger posted that message on the Mickey Z blog site. Comments on Mickey’s blog are generally much different. They are usually in the category of irreverent – edgy. It was shocking to see a prayer there.

This all happened within the first 48 hours after the announcement that Cindy Sheehan was stepping back from the peace movement. The timing of the e-mails and blog posting of the Serenity Prayer made me wonder if we are suffering from a case of "Cindy Syndrome." We are saddened by Cindy’s announcement. We are burned out, worn out, feeling hopeless, and helpless. The current war has once again exposed the dark underside of America the Beautiful. We live in a country where more people know their thread count than know the Iraqi civilian body count – where more know the pH number of the water in their pool, than know the number of deaths caused by Blackwater.

On Democracy Now, Cindy clarified her position. She is not abandoning the effort. She is stepping back to regroup. She is setting a good example for the rest of us. Marching, protesting, singing, and voting are all nice feel-good activities but they cannot change the course of this nation.

Ward Churchill said it better than anyone I have ever heard. “…What I want is for civilization to stop killing my people’s children. If that can be accomplished peacefully, I will be glad. If signing a petition will get those in power to stop killing Indian children, I will put my name at the top of the list. If marching in a protest will do it, I’ll walk as far as you want. If holding a candle will do it, I’ll hold two. If singing protest songs will do it, I’ll sing whatever songs you want me to sing. If living simply will do it, I will live extremely simply. If voting will do it, I’ll vote. But all of those things are allowed by those in power, and none of those things will ever stop those in power from killing Indian children. They never have, and they never will. Given that my people’s children are being killed, you have no grounds to complain at whatever means I use to protect the lives of my people’s children. And I will do whatever it takes…” — Ward Churchill

If we really want to change this nation, we must be willing to do, as Churchill suggests, whatever it takes. Malcolm X expressed a similar thought when he said, "By any means necessary."

We owe a debt of gratitude to Malcolm, Ward, Cindy, and many others. Mostly, we owe a debt to the families of the children who have died as a result of U.S. policies. The time for singing protest songs is over.