So I’m standing out at Lighthouse Field in Santa Cruz, California. I’m there with thousands of other protesters. I’ve come with a few friends, all younger than me by at least a decade, and they are at least a couple of decades older than most of the other protesters. My point being, Covid-wise, I have more to worry about than the majority of people around me, and I’m thinking about this because I’ve been sheltering in place for months, my biggest excursions: the grocery store. (Mind you, I don’t like crowds under normal circumstances.) So I’m being careful. I’m standing in the back, doing my best to keep a six-foot circumference around me, though it’s not easy. People are everywhere. Lovely young people with signs. Lovely young people shouting. But I’m not too worried. Fresh air is blowing off the bay, most people are wearing masks, and (so far) Santa Cruz isn’t a hot spot for the virus—we’ve been smart, lucky—so I’m feeling good, inspired, and proud to be among my fellow protesters.
But because I’m so far back, and because there are so many people, I can’t hear what the speakers up front by the lighthouse are saying. So I kneel when others kneel. Raise a fist when others raise a fist. Then a call and response chant begins—only I can’t hear the call, which is “No justice!” I only hear the response, “No peace!” the crowd chants. “No peace!”
Suddenly I’m thrown back to the Vietnam protests of my youth. I was teenager, and the protests I attended were silent because they’d been organized by Quakers, but we were protesting for peace. We held signs: Peace Now! and plastered our clothes and notebooks with peace signs. War is not healthy for children and other living things we posted on our walls. And now here I was yelling “No peace! No peace!” It kind of threw me.
But I get it, I do. Peace isn’t peace unless everyone gets a piece of it, and that can only happen when everyone feels valued, when no one feels singled out or afraid, when everyone believes and is treated like their life matters. It’s a big thought, and there’s a lot of work to do to make this happen. Turns out peace is a little more complicated than we thought back in the seventies.
But out there at Lighthouse Field, I feel like we’re getting a little closer to it, with our fists in the air, our anger and sadness spilling out. As I walk back to my car, I pass another white woman who looks quite a bit older than me even. (Imagine that!) She’s standing way way back, behind a fence, a church at her back. We make eye contact over our masks. She raises a fist. I raise mine.
“No justice!” I call out to her.
“No peace!” she replies.
What a world.
So that’s it for today. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
And remember, live the love, it’s all we’ve got.