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‘BRIGHT SPOT in OHIO’ —Martin Murie 2011

This is one of the last essays Martin sent me, from a few months ago. He was still actively, passionately and persistently involved in the anti-war movement. Each Saturday morning, Martin  and his wife Alison made their way to downtown Yellow Springs, Ohio to voice their opposition to the ongoing wars and, more importantly, to stand firmly for Peace. To the end, he was always optimistic.   Martin Murie really was a ‘bright spot’ for all of us    ––Jim Stiles

We have a thriving antiwar demonstration going in Yellow Springs, a town that served as an Underground Railroad station for blacks escaping slavery. Once, we were visited by three men from Pakistan who were defending Islam. We have been interviewed several times by the local paper.

Recently the local radio station talked to us.

The demonstration was started by a woman who was jailed for three months for defying the powers-that-be in the School of the Americas. That was eight years ago. We are  going on nine years now. So, every Saturday Alison and I drive eight miles from Xenia (couldn’t afford the prices for real estate in Y.S).

We have fun talking to regulars. Today we had 25 people on the four corners of the intersection.

I am writing this because my recent poster reads:


I quote from the first paragraph of a piece in “In These Times” by Stephen Lerner, under the title “Take the Fight to the Streets:”

“THIS CAN BE OUR MOMENT. A new activism is emerging in the United States and abroad, where people, in unexpected places, are standing up to challenge the rich and powerful. From recent uprisings in Egypt, to young people and workers in Europe marching and striking against shortsighted austerity plans, to the battle of nurses, teachers, firefighters and community members in Wisconsin, and the sit-ins and occupation of banks starting around the country, a movement is starting to grow.”

Organizing for peace & justice, for equity & the common good, has an entirely different feeling from that of trying to jack up enthusiasm for some military adventure dictated by the interests of huge corporations. Corporations, which have been systematically robbing the workforce of this country by outsourcing jobs, cannot then demand the loyalty of that workforce by asking them to pay for military protection of the corporate interests. Particularly when the corporations themselves pay damn all in taxes.

Now we are fighting in Libya. We need to remember that each nation has its own path to salvation and that we should not attack others in defense of Democracy. Each nation has a different pathway to Democracy and we should be helpful in peaceful ways. The United States should not be in the killing mode to please the rulers of our nation. This
is just plain dumb.

Still quoting, Alexander Cockburn, in Anderson Valley Advertiser ( Mendocino Country, California), headlined, “Libya, Oh What a Stupid War:

“For his part,Obama wasn’t keen on intervention, seeing it as another costly swamp, yet another war, and one opposed by Defense Secretary Gates and the Joint Chief of Staff. But by now the liberal interventionists and the Neocons were in full cry, and Obama, perennially fearful of being outflanked, succumbed, hastening to one of the least convincing statement of war aims in the nation’s history.

He’s already earned a threat of impeachment from leftist Congressman Dennis Kucinich for arrogating war-making powers constitutionally reserved for the U.S.Congress,  though it has to be said that protests from the left have been pretty feeble.”

Back at the demonstration, I make my rounds from corner to corner, stopping passing pedestriams to ask them “Have you ever thought of joining us?”

The replies are always interesting. Sometimes I say, “Taking that step will change your life.” That is true. It takes a little gumption to take that crucial step, to show your face to passing cars and walkers of the sidewalks. Some blame the weather and I accept that. Sometimes rain or snow or cold makes the demonstration miserable. My parting shot is “I’ll look for you next Saturday.”

Recruits are few, but steady– this, after all, is a very small town — they soon become “regulars.” We have a drummer now that livens things up on even the most miserable day.


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