“A Good Reason to Fight”

I thought that after a day of “planning meetings” here at the Iraq Veterans Against the War “Operation Recovery” strategy workshop in Philly, I’d probably come back to the house where we’re staying and hit the hay.  But the house is full of passionate activists who seem to have a lot more to say tonight and are still trading ideas and stories of their experiences even though all I want to do now is sleep.  After a full day of giving all I had to the kids at Edison Elementary on Friday and then hopping on the play to fly across the continent and sleeping four hours (last night) before getting up and trying desperately to figure out, with this other group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans (and a few allies to the cause) how in the hell we are ever going to try to do our part to take care of our fellow veterans who are suffering so miserably as a result of their deployment experiences, I am absolutely wiped out.  I’ve been to what feels like a thousand of these gatherings since I came home from Iraq in 2004.  Each time I approach them with renewed hope and believing that this time, we can actually do something that will wake up this nation and help the veterans and advocate for our troops who are still deployed and (it seems most of the time) forgotten by most of the nation who sent them there and speak out on behalf of the unseen millions who actually have to live in the countries occupied by the US military.  It’s hard not to get disheartened.  Please don’t think I’m about to give up but I’ve taken to speaking very honestly with you who read my blog and I have to say that tonight I am just beaten down.  Working at Edison and giving every extra second I have to prepare for the New York run of my play and trying to do at least a few things to keep my mind and body healthy, there’s just not a lot of time left for me; or for my family.  That’s not okay and I plan to learn from this weekend once and for all.  I simply have to remember the ways in which I am most effective in my efforts to work for peace and social justice.  I know that I can be useful to the peace movement.  I know I can be useful in the Queer Civil Rights movement.  I know I can be useful to the many other causes that are close to my heart.  But I have to fight smart. My work as a board member for IVAW is an honor and a huge responsibility and I intend to stick it out.  Writing, performing and sharing from the heart at the podium have proven to be good ways I can do my part.  But at almost 45 years old, it time once and for all to be very clear about the most efficient way I can do what I feel like I was sent here to do.  I think that my art is my most useful tool.   I want to support our troops.  I need to do that in the ways that make sense to me according to the spiritual guidance I get from my relationship with my Creator.  I want to do what I can to speak out for ways in which our nation can continue to thrive while not behaving in ways that make us more and more hated by those who would do us harm. I need to never allow the American public to forget the people who are suffering because of our bad decisions and our complacency.  I need to use every tool at my disposal to speak loud and long.  But every time I end up at one of these events which suck every bit of energy I have, I feel like I can go on.  Then I think about the mothers and fathers I’ve met who are the parents of servicemembers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan and I feel like I owe it to them to keep fighting.  I always make myself believe that if I had died over there that their kids would have done the same for my parents.  I’ve met (and protested with and come to deeply care about) these Goldstar parents for six years now and I cannot let tiredness keep me from the work.  I love them in a way that is unique to this group and no others.  I want to fight so that their kids’ lives will not have been given up in vein.  We must not give up.

I promise that once I get back to Salt Lake, after what promises to be a very busy Monday, I’ll get some rest and go back to being the more lighthearted version of myself and hopefully give you a chuckle or two by reading my blog.  It gives me great joy to do so.

But for tonight and tomorrow, until this weekend is over, I need to humbly ask you to send up a prayer for us and for all who are working for peace.  I believe in the power of prayer and I definitely am in need of the help of a power greater than myself to take the next right steps.  I cannot go back to denial or the life of complacency that, let’s face it, never suited me anyway.  Too much depends on our success.

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