In Defense of My Pro-Peace Message

On June 16 the Keene Sentinel published a letter to the editor regarding my participation in the local Memorial Day Parade.

The letter reads,“I was angered and saddened to have to bear witness to the protesters that felt it necessary to be at the end of the parade.
I do respect and understand their right to protest the war… they can do this every Saturday in Central Square.”

It seems Ms. Szoc wants to limit dissenting speech to a single day and to a single location in town. I’d like to remind her and others that free speech means just that FREE SPEECH. It does not mean popular speech or limited dissent only when other approve of the time and place of the dissent.

She continues,“Yet I found it very disrespectful to those who have or are serving our country to do this not just on Memorial Day but at the parade.”
The point of protesting at the parade, as well as on West Street before and after the parade, was to spread the message of peace. Peace is more than simply not being at war. Sadly, the message of peace is ignored by those who prefer to live in a constant state of fear. I understand that my view is not popular and I’m not angry about it. Though it is my opinion that many people who oppose the ideas of peace are angry at those who do not support their views.

“These are the men and women who have died or served time to make this great country free.”
Oh, the blood sacrifice card. This is the trump card of the pro-war crowd, along with “freedom isn’t free” – which usually implies that people must die (the blood sacrifice) in order for you to have your freedom. She and others seem to believe that peace and freedom can only be achieved through bloodshed. Though even with much blood being shed the Congress has been taking away freedoms left and right for the past 100 years.

“Free so they, the protesters, as United States citizens, can demonstrate their beliefs.”
I’m curious if Ms. Szoc believes that only US citizens have rights, and from where she believes those rights come. It is my belief that rights are inherent and can not given or taken away by groups of people, even a group claiming legitimacy under the name government.

“…we were blessed to live in a nation where we were free.
Free to work where we wanted and do what we wanted.”

Ms. Szoc appears to have a distorted view of what free means. On Memorial Day, I wanted to spread the message of peace. However, Ms. Szoc and others have told me repeatedly that days of nationalism are not appropriate for expressing dissenting opinions. I’m either free or I’m not. Freedom to do what is popular is NOT freedom!

“He also told us what a privilege it was to be free to vote… He made a lasting impression on me about my right as a free citizen to change the things I did not like by voting.”
While I do vote in self-defense, voting is not a good method to bring about change. I agree with Gandhi, that everyone should be the change they expect to see in the world. Gandhi was very successful in bringing about change in India, and it did not happen because of voting. Change came about because of non-violent civil disobedience and standing up for what is right in the face of oppression even when your view is unpopular.

“I hope the next time the demonstrators choose to demonstrate, they think about the sorrow and hurt they may have caused the families, and the men and women who have given their lives for us.”
I hope the next time Ms. Szoc (or anyone else) supports war, she thinks about the millions of innocent victims who are killed by the US military. I hope she thinks about the babies who are born with birth defects caused by exposure to depleted uranium. I hope she thinks about the young men and women of other countries who are maimed and killed by landmines decades after the American military leaves their country. However, I do not expect those who support war to think about such things, because doing so would make them realize the supposed enemy is actually another human being and this would would make them uncomfortable.

“If the protesters are not happy with Washington, then change Washington.”
I do try to change Washington, I send letters to Congress all the time; yet, they ignore my views and continue to vote for bigger government and more war.

“Do not take it out on a day that is set aside to honor our veterans and remember those who lost their lives so that the rest of us can be free.”
Who are “the rest of us” who “can be free?” Am I to assume that because I do not support killing people that I have not “earned” the right to be free? This is not the Roman Empire where slaves become citizens by serving in the military. I’d like to point out that my rights do not come from men, they come from the Creator, they can not be given and they can not be taken away!

I will continue to demonstrate in opposition to what is wrong and in favor of what it right, regardless of how many people do not want to read or hear my message. It was not my intention to offend anyone and for that I am sorry. Though I will not apologize for speaking my mind and attempting to spread the message of peace.