Friday, September 14, 2007

On Being the Change in a Free Speech Zone

As a teenage girl, I wished to grow up being a teacher of peace. I took the required history classes in high school, all taught by gym teachers and sexual deviants. (In Mr. Lafavie's class, if you wore a short skirt and sat on the front row you were guaranteed a good grade. I was not that girl.) I thought, "Why do they only teach about the wars and war generals. Where is the history of the peacemakers?".
I was on my own on this one. I could not rely on the public school system to teach me. Early on, in elementary school, I was labeled as "gifted". The problem came when I entered high school and got involved in too many extracurricular activities; band, drama, chorus, part time job, bowling league and boyfriends. Looking back, I am not surprised that my grades slipped. I even failed AP English. My failure became a blessing.
I was placed in a normal level English class taught by a very inspirational teacher we called Bev. I was leary about being in a regular level class filled with the "popular" kids; cheerleaders and jocks. After all, all my friends were in the AP classes. Ok, Ok, I admit it, I was a fag.......a nerd. But once I got over my own insecurities, this became my favorite class.
It was taught in a trailer beside the main school building as our school had outgrown itself. It was the only high school in the county back then and we were busting out at the seems with students. There were over 400 in my graduating class.
Bev taught us that there were people who dedicated their lives to peace and nonviolence. She taught us to use our voice and speak out about injustices. At this time I had already attended my first protest, a pro-choice rally about an hour away from my town. I had already visited DC twice and seen the protesters camped out on the lawn of the national mall. I knew I had Democratic leanings and disliked Capitalistic Republicans. In the late 80s though, things seemed peaceful, but I would be at the ready, should things change.
Things have changed, war is the norm. I am now ready to be the change, to teach peace. I am ready to stand up and be heard. I am ready to stand arm and arm with my fellow peacemakers. But we have to be VERY loud for anyone in Washington to hear our message. We all have to speak in unison. But are we united in the same cause? Can we narrow all the ills into one message? Change! Peace! Change to Peace! But can they hear us way over here in our "free speech zones"?

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