Thursday, April 06, 2006

Peace Vigil

I try to go for a jog on Wednesday evenings. A favorite route is up Moose Hill Parkway to the top of the road. It's a good choice because, even though it might be rush hour with all the commuters returning home from Boston and the 128/495 tech corridor, car traffic is light on the Hill. Also, it provides a good quick workout because it offers about 20 minutes of climbing to get to the top.

As I return home, I pass through the town center, partly just to see what's going on. Just about every time, I see a man or couple standing on the busy corner holding signs and candles. I started stopping to say hello and to see what they were up to and how things were going. It turns out these are possibly the only Quakers in town and they have been holding a vigil nearly every Wednesday night for over three years since the war in Iraq started. For an hour every week they stand there in the cold, wind, rain, snow, or heat in an attempt to get people to think about what our government is doing in Iraq. As far as I can tell, few people seem to notice.

Back in November, I wrote a letter for our local weekly newspaper. At the time, a new IKEA store opened in a neighboring town and the place was so mobbed, they had to close major streets. I was struck by the contrast between our acute desire to buy more stuff and the lack of concern about the mayhem associated with Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.). I never mailed the letter because there were concerns that it might not be prudent to express such personal views so publicly in a small town where we are know by quite a few people. Here, I can post it, I am sure, with impunity.

To the Editor:

I was passing through the center of Sharon tonight on a cold, rainy November Wednesday evening at about 7:30. I noticed a couple of people standing on the corner. They seemed to be holding some kind of cardboard signs. It occurred to me that I've been noticing small groups of people standing there for some time now. I haven't seen anything in the Advocate about them. Who are these people? What do they want? Why do we have to look at them huddled against the cold as we drive our big cars to our warm homes? Are they trying to tell us something? Is this something we should be concerned about?

Last week, a few people gathered in Stoughton. Some even camped out for days. The gathering grew and grew until finally this morning, a mob of thousands crowded the streets to converge on the town in such numbers that the police were concerned about public safety. Could this happen in Sharon?

In one case, the throngs were carrying off cheap, disposable, imported Scandanavian furniture and chochkis. In the other, a handful of lonely souls brave the dark and damp to carry a message of truth and peace. Which should we be seeking?


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