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Cindy Sheehan and Keeping the Faith - Ted Glick


A hopeful article for those feeling down after Cindy's "resignation".

Cindy Sheehan and Keeping the Faith

By Ted Glick

"It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this
system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that
allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most."

I was relieved to hear Cindy Sheehan say this morning on
Democracy Now that she does not plan to retire from the
struggle for peace and justice. Instead, she will be taking
a well-deserved and needed break to reconnect with her
family, deal with serious economic and health issues and
figure out how she can best utilize her skills and talents
going forward.

She also made it very clear that she has had it with the
two-party system, or "what some call a one-party system,"
and she was crystal clear that it is corporate rule that is
the ultimate root of the problems we face in the US and the
world.

Thank you to Amy Goodman and Democracy Now for this
important interview.

Like many others, I have been concerned and confused for a
couple of days. I was confused when on Memorial Day I saw
first one and then another statement from this courageous
and self-sacrificing woman, both circulated over the
internet around the same time.

The first statement was entitled, "Why I Am Leaving the
Democratic Party." It ended with a call for people to join
with her in Philadelphia on July 4th "to try and figure out
a way out of this 'two' party system that is bought and paid
for by the war machine which has a stranglehold on every
aspect of our lives. As for myself, I am leaving the
Democratic Party. You have completely failed those who put
you in power to change the direction our country is heading.
We did not elect you to help sink our ship of state but to
guide it to safe harbor. . . We gave you a chance, you
betrayed us."

Having been part of organizations working to build an
alternative to the Democrats and Republicans for 32 years,
this was good to see.

However, later on the same day came a second statement which
was more disturbing. This is the one which received much
wider circulation and which was picked up by the corporate
media. That mass media portrayed Sheehan as announcing to
the world that she had left the anti-war movement for good.

A close reading of the second letter, however, especially
in the light of the Democracy Now interview, reveals a
different story.

It is clear that Cindy Sheehan has been under tremendous
pressure, and not just because of her constant traveling,
speaking and organizing against the war. She refers to her
"hospital bills from last summer (when I almost died) [that]
are in collection." She explains that she has "spent every
available cent I got from the money a 'grateful' country
gave me when they killed my son and every penny that I have
received in speaking or book fees since then."

Let me be among the first to volunteer to make a
contribution to a "restore Cindy" fund to let her know that
many of us are grateful for what she has done and want to
help in a concrete way.

It is also clear that Cindy Sheehan, for hopefully a short
period of time, has lost hope in the possibilities of change
in the USA. She writes, in reference to the reality of US
society, that it is "a paradigm that is now, I am afraid,
carved in immovable, unbendable and rigidly mendacious
marble." And the end of the letter concludes by saying,
"Good-bye America. . . you are not the country that I love
and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can't
make you be that country unless you want it. It's up to you
now."

If I were a close friend of Cindy's, this is what I would
most want to talk with her about.

I appreciate her feelings; I have had them myself. There are
days, or parts of days, where I keep going not because I
feel like we have a chance of turning around this
destructive "paradigm" but because I feel it's my duty to
keep plugging away. I know that I need to give as much as I
can to the struggle for a new world. I believe, I deeply
believe, that our purpose on this earth is to try to depart
it having done as much as we could to make it a better and
more hopeful place for those coming after us.

But it is just not accurate to believe that all is lost,
that the country is not changing, that there is no hope. The
unwillingness of the Democratic Party, once again, to stand
up for what is right is in no way an accurate indicator of
what is happening at the grassroots of U.S. society, all
over the country, in every single state.

How could George Bush be at 30% in the polls if there was no
change of substance in the country?

How could the Republicans have lost control of Congress six
months ago?

And even this: how could the Democrats have gone through the
motions of pretending to stand up to George Bush, forcing
him to veto a very, very weak war appropriations bill, if it
were not for polls showing that close to 2/3rds of the
country wanted them to try to stop the war?

The problem is not the people. The problem is a
corporate-dominated political and economic system that shuts
us out and that tries to make us feel hopeless, unable to
"fight City Hall" and win.

There's no question that we are up against a formidable
enemy, but there is also no question, history proves it
without a doubt, that if we are organized and united, a
powerful people's movement can turn around our current
reality, and a lot more quickly than we might think.

Not being "organized and united"--this was the other big
issue Cindy raised in her letter. She referred to her "work
within a peace movement that often puts personal egos above
peace and human life. . . It is hard to work for peace when
the very movement that is named after it has so many
divisions."

Yes, personal egos and divisions are within our movements.
This is not a new problem. Many good and wonderful people
have been lost to the progressive movement because they
experienced just what Cindy has experienced. How can we say
that we are about a new and different society and then
interact with others also working for that new society in a
way which is little different than the corporate,
individualistic culture?

Eight years ago I wrote in my Future Hope book that a
"cultural transformation process must be an integral part of
a new political movement in this country." I went on to say
that "we need to learn how to work in a collective and
cooperative way, a way which is distinctly different than
the aggressive, me-first culture that is dominant in U.S.
society today. We need to show by example, by the way the
movement functions, that we have grown and learned beyond
the old, destructive patterns of personal interaction. When
one of us has a serious personal problem, an injury, an
illness, a death in the family, or emotional distress,
others must be there to provide support and assistance. We
must be known not just for our good ideas about how to
re-make society and our work on issues but by the way we
interact with each other and with other people on personal
levels."

I hope that Cindy Sheehan's "resignation as the 'face' of
the American anti-war movement" will stir those of us who
have been moved by her brave witness and leadership to
appreciate and internalize her anguished cry for a new kind
of movement. It is within our reach, I do believe. I see
signs of it, despite the obstacles, with one of the best
examples being the success of the organizing process for the
U.S. Social Forum a month from now in Atlanta.

And Cindy, know that you are loved and appreciated. The
progressive movement for justice and peace is not dependent
upon you, but we want you back, when you are ready.

Ted Glick is a leader of the U.S. Climate Emergency Council,
the Climate Crisis Coalition and the Independent Progressive
Politics Network. His over seven years of Future Hope
columns are archived at www.ippn.org. He can be reached at
indpol@igc.org or P.O. Box 1132, Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.

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