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Fountain of Sorrow

By Cindy Sheehan

And while the future's there for anyone to change, still you know its seems
It would be easier sometimes to change the past.
Jackson Browne, Fountain of Sorrow

I have been drinking from the fountain of sorrow for almost fours years now since my oldest child, Casey (number 614), was killed in Iraq on April 04, 2004. I was in Vacaville today spending Easter with my surviving children and I stopped to put Easter flowers on Casey's grave on the way back to San Francisco. Today four more American families have been sent into the deep well of never-ending sorrow by the lies and greed of BushCo and Congress, Inc. as we reach yet another unthinkable, unnecessary and tragic milestone in Iraq: 4000 US troops killed. In a relevant and related story, dozens of Iraqis were also killed today---many of those innocent victims in the evil US game of imperial conquest. Conservative body counts for the Iraqis (which have to be done by independent agencies since the US military does not "do" civilian body counts) is somewhere between 600,000 and 1.2 million. Everyone in Iraq has lost a family member---many have lost multiple family members. The numbers of wounded are staggering on both sides.

I appeared on a local news show on March 19th---the 5th anniversary of the occupation of Iraq and the show pitted me "against" a dad whose son was also killed in Iraq and who supports the war effort---he said that we could not withdraw our troops now that the surge was "working." If anyone is entitled to have an opposite opinion than mine, it is a family member who buried their loved one, but the surge is not working. In one example, the Sunni group The Awakening is tired of being stiffed by the US government who has apparently stopped paying them not to kill our soldiers and The Awakening is also upset that BushCo is taking credit for the decrease in violence in Iraq, when it has only happened because the US was paying 80,000 Sunni $10.00 a day. I find it very ironic that we pay Sunni not to kill and we pay US soldiers and mercenaries to kill. There is something fundamentally disordered about this situation.

After about 17 years of US led devastation against Iraq it is a broken country and our military got broken breaking it. Millions of Iraqis are dead between the sanction period and the deadly reign of BushCo and millions more are refugees from their homes. The neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed and walled off. If the country is so safe, then I propose that Dick Cheney, John McCain and Joe Lieberman stroll arm and arm and arm through Baghdad, out of the Green Zone without body armor, without one thousand Marines and without hoverirng Black Hawk helicopters, then I'll believe it's safe there. Iraq was a country that was easily invaded, but it has not been a country that has been easily occupied. The "geniuses" that are in charge of our country (by default) either did not know that, historically, occupations are resisted by every people that have been occupied, or they just did not careā€¦I choose the second option.

A country with less inhabitants than California has lost over twenty percent of its population. Any goodwill that the US retained in 2000 when BushCo took over in a bloodless coup facilitated by the Supreme Court has been squandered by their crimes. Billions of dollars have been wasted on the occupation and conservative estimates place the total monetary cost at over 3 trillion dollars. Our economy is free-falling due to militarism and illegal occupations and having to borrow our grandchildren's futures from China.

George Bush is asking for another 100 billion dollars from a Congress that is as loose with China's money as BushCo are with our children's lives. Americans and the corporate media are devoted to presidential politics at the moment when not any of the remaining candidates are calling for a full and speedy withdrawal from Iraq.

The past for me and my family is painful and no amount of activity or activism can change it---the future is looking bleak for our country and our world because there is really no telling what BushCo and the fascist economic elite of our country are planning for the upcoming months. However, I still fiercely believe that our present actions do affect the future and there are things that we can do now to prevent potential grief. We are called to not be just passive voters in America, but fully participating members of humanity in the world. Nothing will change as long as we sit around wringing our hands and whining that there is nothing that we can do about the mess we are in.

Do not vote for, or contribute to any candidate that is not calling for a full and speedy withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Do not vote for, or contribute to any candidate who does not reject the violence of pre-emptive wars of aggression to solve problems, but who calls for humane and comprehensive diplomatic solutions in the Middle East which would also include a humane resolution to the Palestinian/Israeli crisis: humane for both sides.

Consider withholding all or part of your Federal Income Tax until US troops are withdrawn from the Middle East. Tax-resistance is a time honored and courageous form of protest. (Purely symbolic because of borrowing and deficit spending, but I can look at myself in the mirror because I don't contribute any of my money to the war machine).

"Simplify, simplify, simplify!" H.D. Thoreau

Reduce your dependence on petroleum products---foreign, or domestic. Too many people die for America's love affair with cars and too many people are exploited to pump oil and refine it.

Use the model of Brattleboro, Vt., for city resolutions for war crimes indictments against Dick Cheney and George Bush.

Support counter-recruitment efforts to stop our children from becoming cannon fodder or paid assassins for the war machine.

Support organizations like Conscientious Objectors and Courage to Resist which support our soldiers who do not want to participate in war crimes. After 5 years too many and the indisputable fact that this is an occupation for profit is, our troops should NOT participate in this farce.

Do not patronize advertisers of corporate media and tell the sponsors why you are not buying or using their products.

Join ILWU in its May Day walk out for peace.

Teach your children and grandchildren about the evils of war and violence.

These are just a few things that I can think of, I know there are many more. However, the most important thing that we can do is to do what we did here in San Francisco over the past week: join together in unity in all of our diversity to work for peace. We know that we cannot depend on Democrats or Republicans; we have to depend on ourselves and our brothers and sisters.

My heart and love goes out to all the families who have paid the ultimate price in flesh and blood in Iraq whether they are American or Iraqi; or pro-war or pro-peace. I wish I could offer some hope and murmur false platitudes to make it better, but at the end of the day we all drink from the same bottomless fountain of sorrow and I know that it sucks, big time. I recently received an email from someone who I assume does not support me, because he/she told me to "get over it" because "millions of people have died in war from the beginning of time." Just because it has always been so, does it has to keep being this way? Do working class children have to keep dying for the war-making class? Only if we keep giving them our children.

Let's change the future and stop this cycle of violence, today.


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