We merely saw a small poster about a peace march Sunday at 7 p.m., starting at Russell Street and College Avenue, just three blocks from our house, so I was surprised that so many people kept joining the march. I couldn’t help but reflect on other peace marches and the atmosphere of marches in the early 1960s when we really thought our peace and love marches would touch the soul of America and help us find an early way out of the Vietnam War. Then I remembered how those marches, which started so peacefully, became violent at the time when marchers began to stop troop trains, and I felt I could no longer participate in something which would only serve to polarize public opinion.
I began to feel a fear that this march also might be the beginning of a series of marches which would also lead to further violence, and that so few of us can imagine the ominous dangers which lie ahead for this country. However, I couldn’t help but notice that many of the cars honking as they went by were holding up a V for peace sign, and I didn’t hear any shouts of derision. How can this be, I thought. To listen to the news one would think that a person opposed to “bombing Afghanistan into oblivion if necessary” might subject himself or herself to violent retaliation. Perhaps people in general realize after all that we need to get a better perspective on terrorism before we start down a road which will lead to far worse than the road in Vietnam. Now at least we understand what could be worse than Vietnam, for after all, in the 1960s the country was not subject to terrorism on a large scale.
Surely we must separate our sense of grief, our experience of tragedy, and all the accompanying emotions, from our determination to find appropriate responses, both in the interests of justice and in the interest of the country at large.
Thomas de Lackner