Yesterday, as usual, was a long day of preserving. Toward the end, as we were exhausted and getting ready for some down-time, we were alerted to a serious situation going on.
The Republican National Convention will be descending on this town (has been descending), starting tomorrow. Of course given the last 8 years there are a lot of people upset about the Republicans and politics in general. One group in particular, the RNC Welcoming Committee, has been planning some disruption and protesting for at least a year - and I'm sure there are other groups planning protests as well.
So last night we got a call that a Friend from meeting had taken sanctuary because she feared her arrest was imminent. The St. Paul police had decided to do a preventive strike against these "dangerous criminals/terrorists" (something like that), round up the leaders of the Welcoming Committee, arrest them, and charge them with conspiracy to riot.
Of course it wasn't just the St. Paul police on their own that decided this. It's kind of become the way the current administration deals with dissent. The Friend we know is a pacifist and agrees that perhaps she doesn't agree with all the tactics of this group - but I find it hard to call them "dangerous criminals". I certainly don't think it was necessary to break down doors to arrest people. I don't think it was necessary to stop people on the street, handcuff them and get them face-down on the ground - only to release them after questioning.
My friends, this is all about fear. They're trying to get us scared enough that we don't protest, don't carry signs, don't pay attention to what the government is doing, and don't say anything about it.
Ironically, this action has made Jeremy and I more interested in attending the march tomorrow!
I know this probably sounds weird coming from me, especially since I'm so averse to conflict. And I'm also not very knowledgeable about civil disobedience, riots, protests, marches, sit-ins, walk-outs, etc. Honestly, over the past eight years I've become more and more disenchanted with these forms of communicating to the government. Did any of them stop Bush from doing just what he wanted? If every citizen in the entire US signed a petition or marched, would that stop Bush from doing something? I kind of don't think so - which is sad and scary.
Perhaps that's what the "audacity of hope" is all about. Though I feel a bit disenchanted about the government, perhaps things can be turned around. Perhaps we can put an end to war. Perhaps we can put an end to unnecessary extreme poverty, to malnutrition, to giant corporations running the world, to bad government, etc! Maybe that's naive, but I don't care.
So Jeremy and I did our part in the story that has unfolded the past two days. A number of people stayed overnight in the meetinghouse to show solidarity and support for members of the Welcoming Committee. Jeremy and I woke up early this morning, gathered some supplies, and got to the meetinghouse around 6:30. Then we whipped up a breakfast of blueberry pancakes, fresh-baked bread, home-made jelly, and bunch of oven-baked tomatoes, potatoes, and carmelized onions sprinkled liberally with herbs from our garden. It was wonderful to be able to support Friends in this way, with something that we are gifted at. Today the kitchen, tomorrow the RNC!