a force to be rekoned with

Three activists sat quietly on the tracks, a word, “peace,” spelled out in rocks just before them between the hard iron rails. A steam engine, pulling two cars loaded with weapons bound for Central America from the Concord Naval Weapons Station, rolled down the tracks. The 40 or so people attending the protest waited expectantly for the train to stop and the arrests to be made.

Two of the protesters leapt from the tracks, but Willson couldn’t move in time. The train ran over him, severing both his legs below the knee and puncturing his skull, before leaving his mangled body on the tracks. The train did, however, stop some 500 feet down the line.

Nearly two decades after what Willson calls “the train assault,” he is living happily. He has withdrawn from national politics, believing the protests and pleas for policy change only reinforce a system built on the concept of empire. Instead, Willson believes localization, reduction and a simpler way of life are the tools to combat the train he said is coming for us all — global warming.

[read the story, Times-Standard Online]

I remember hearing about this on the news when it happened in September 1987. I was in law school at the time. I remember thinking good luck trying to sue anybody over this. A train is like a government: mass and momentum, moving in one direction, hard to stop and impossible to steer. The subject of this article has an even more circumspect and stoic perspective.

I don’t necessarily agree with Wilson about protests. There must be a moral imperative involved, or people wouldn’t give up their time and resources to speak out. Obviously, peace activism doesn’t pay much.

But he has a point.

Regimes like the Bush-Cheney cabal seem to take comfort and sustenance from knowing hearing the cries of the world against their crimes in progress. They seem to believe they possess a vision and mandate that the braying, bawling herd – that’s us – cannot comprehend. The more commoners, and intellectuals alike, stand against them, the more convinced they become in the recitude of their blood-dimmed folly. And in a staggering irony, they have called down the Good Shepard – the Prince of Peace – on their side of the argument.

It’s sickening, isn’t it? On one side, there are anti-Muslims, claiming Islam gives them the moral authority to massacre innocents, even their own brothers, and to teach their children nothing but to hate. On the other, anti-Christs, claiming the guidance of Him who taught us to love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves, and making war under His banner of love.

I don’t know much, but I know there is a God, and I know that I’m not Him. And to think I see God’s thoughts and know His will, and act as His personal agent would be utterly absurd.

I digress. The question is where can peaceful change begin. I think by teaching our children that the only legitimate government is an expression of the cooperative will of the people, that government is good for building schools and roads and not much else; that government lies compulsively and should never be trusted with our lives. And once it gets rolling, better get the hell out of its way.

1 thought on “a force to be rekoned with

  1. I gotta tell ya, when I read about that back in the day I was sickened. I'm the type who gets freaked at the very thought of injury–I avoided fistfights as a kid for fear of injury and pain–and even now cower during our peace protests whenever the cops (a mild militia here in SB) appears along the march. I couldn't imagine such action as risking death, and so don't have a way to relate to it, to call it a name, such as heroism or stupidity or anything. Just can't imagine it.

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