|San Francisco City Hall from our standing|
point November 26, 2011
© L Kathryn Grace
We stood for peace again this Saturday. I have to tell you, even though we are only two, I feel empowered.
When we stand before an edifice dedicated to assuring that the economic interests of a city are served, we stand at the seat of power. Here the influential, and those who do their bidding, make decisions that bring peace--or violence--to our lives.
In this world-class city, those decisions affect the lives not only of San Franciscans, but of people throughout the state and around the world. Whether we're banning plastic bags in supermarkets or shipping our collected "recyclables" overseas where the poorest of the poor sort our mountains of trash to salvage what can be melted down and remade, the impact of our city is felt near and far. Decisions made in this building ripple across the planet, like a skipping stone on water.
Let's face it. Making peace is about economics. All war, all injustice comes down to economics and greed. "You have what I want. If you won't give it to me, won't sell it to me for the price I'm willing to pay, I will take it from you."
Yet, because individuals stood up over the years in this town, walked and marched and stood in the halls of this building, many decisions made here reflect a concern for the well-being of our people. Not only the wealthy are served; but also those of us who serve the wealthy; and the thousands of immigrants who grow, harvest, prepare and serve our food, clean our homes and offices, cut our hair, and who work tirelessly to achieve a better life for themselves, their families and friends.
|Green Vehicle Showcase|
© L Kathryn Grace
Of course, we are also a city known to house some of the most shameless--and shameful--human trafficking and sex trafficking rings in the country, for just one example of the other side, and a homeless population larger than the town my children called home for eighteen years, for another. All is not charm and beauty here.
These thoughts flow as I stand, at first flushed with the rush to get here, the too hot tea in my thermos burning my tongue and throat, watching tourists dance toward the shining glass and brass doors below the rotunda, fifth largest in the world, with a dome higher than that of the US Capitol building. They take pictures of one another posing first on this side of the street, then again on the steps of the building, under the great frieze of naked and partially clothed mythical figures.
We do not speak, my standing partner and I. We shift our bodies, arching our complaining backs and relaxing them, rocking on our feet to keep the blood flowing and the stiffness at bay.
Soon, my body settles into the rhythm, my mind quiets, the calm of standing in peace fills me, seems to grow and surround us. A white haired woman arrives, across the street, stands against a concrete pillar for nearly the entire hour. We wonder if she is the woman who told us she would stand with us today.
The longer the hour stretches, the more comfortable I am. The longer I stand, the more I feel what it would mean, what might happen if hundreds stood with us, thousands around the world. Though I gently return my focus to my breathing whenever my mind wanders, inevitably it fills with this image again and again and again: Grandmothers all over the world, standing in front of their city halls, their churches, mosques and synagogues, whatever symbols of power in their towns and villages, standing in silence, hearts open to the possibility of peace.
Changed, as we are changed standing here, they--we--just may begin to influence those within our sphere, who in turn may influence others, rippling, rippling, rippling. We are as stones.
We stand for peace as part of Grandmothers for Peace Occupy SF, which we initiated after an OccupySF peace meditation. You can read about our experience and why we started Grandmothers for Peace Occupy SF on Yes, we did Sit4Change.
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.