March Forward; March 20



War veterans and resisters say “All Out for March 20th-National March on Washington!”

Dearest Special Beings . . .

If you have yet to see, hear, read, or feel the commitment of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans against the Middle Eastern wars, here is your chance.  If you have not experienced the pain the family and friends of troops feel, now you can.  If you think you can only show your support for soldiers by endorsing the wars, then, please ponder the words of Winter Soldier Michael Prysner.  He and the experienced troops who walk with him wish to ask for your help.  Peruse the passage Prysner presents in this mail.

Please ponder how the wars affect you personally, politically, and even fiscally.  Consider the many communities in this country and abroad deprived of funds, all in an effort to participate in and pay for warfare.  Try to imagine the many lives and limbs lost, not to mention the emotional traumatic stress.  Perhaps, you have already actively considered how our culture has changed, all because we engage in costly battles.  

If you had wanted to speak out, and have not, or if you want to communicate in a manner that might touch the President and Congress, please join our servicemen, woman, kin, and acquaintances in a March Forward.

For details, please read on.  I thank you.


In March of 2003, I was sent to invade Iraq amidst the largest anti-war demonstrations in history, with an equally senseless war already being waged in Afghanistan. Myself, and countless other veterans, went believing the lies spewed by Washington, but saw first hand the criminal and imperial nature of that war, and every war waged by the U.S. Our experiences compelled us to stand up and fight back.

Many of us joined together to form March Forward!, and have been building resistance to these wars, both in and out of the military. This video was made by our members, all of whom are veterans and active duty soldiers, to help us publicize the next step in our struggle to end the wars-the national mass anti-war protests in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco on March 20th, seven years after the brutal invasion of Iraq.

Help us make our voices heard. We need you all behind us on March 20th to stand united against the crimes of this government-but we also need your help in spreading the word. Please circulate the above video to everyone you can, and be a part of the growing movement against the U.S. war machine.

Visit March20.org to learn more about how to get involved.

To learn more about March Forward! please visit MarchForward.org.

In solidarity,

Mike Prysner

The Medium is the Message

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copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

It happened once, twice; I trust the third time could not charm me more.  I have witnessed the power of a gesture, one made without words.  I have seen the light that glows when people connect in quiet ways.  Now experienced on more than one occasion, I have come to appreciate the peaceful power of consistent communication.  I had not fully acknowledged what could be accomplished until I arrived on the scene, alone.  Then I saw it.  I felt it.  I could hardly believe that a single steadfast individual, could convey a message without words, and still receive such a resounding response.  Yet, while there, it occurred.  I was struck by what had not been apparent for near a decade. The stance of a quiet soul, stated calmly, clearly, and with care, can move more persons than I ever imagined.  

Perchance, reliability is the reason. Indeed, I know that advertisers say a message when reiterated establishes credibility, familiarity, and becomes the first thought when a need is realized.  The accepted business standard is “The importance of repetition in advertising is huge.”  However, I am not in business.  I have no product to sell, no services to offer.  All that I wish to produce is peace.

As I said, this tale began years ago.  I started to stand vigil at a local South Florida Peace Corner.  I have continued to do so for years.  Indeed, I still do.  Long ago, many of us actively sought global harmony.  Today there are far fewer.  We are fortunate to have six persons frequent the scheduled Saturday events I am  one who, in a fifty-two week period, misses only a handful of demonstrations.  

Even with just a few demonstrators, we do what we have done for all this time.  With signs in hand, we proclaim our desire for peace.  Most stand on the Southwest, shady side of a busy intersection.  I, on the other hand, place myself at the Northwest curbside.  I choose to stand alone.

I do not wish to converse with my fellow activists when I am at, what for me is, a sacred service.  I prefer to engage the persons who pass me by.  Hence, I walk across the road, hold high my hand painted poster, and present the peace sign to those who pass me.  In the traditional form of a thumb crossed under the upraised first and second fingers, whilst the ring and pinky digits are curled into the palm of my hand, I greet people with the written words, “Love!  Not War. Love!  Audibly, I thank each individual who silently, with a V-sign gesture, or a beep, shares the sentiment.

When the weekly ritual began, it appeared there was ample support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Combative causes were believed to be apt.  That is for most.  Tranquil beings thought the actions were an anathema.  Those outspoken on the subject took to the streets.  It was discovered that many who walked by, or drove past, were inspired to participate.  A few would exit their automobiles and ask, “Might I join you.”  Others, out for a stroll, would stop, chat, and then say, “I am with you.”  Literally, these people often would look for a poster, or make one with whatever was available.

Thus, a collection of signs was created. Anyone who wanted to show solidarity for soldiers and civilians in harms way, could grab one.  Concerned citizens came weekly and then, more so in the last 365 days, they did not.   I however, cannot forego what for me is a commitment.  I promised myself I would walk the path towards peace.  Hence, each Saturday, I leave my home and head to the Corner.

A smaller congregation did not affect me, or so I thought.  Unexpectedly, the sign situation brought a newer reality and the realization I now share. While I did not stand with others, I was not alone.  Nor was I totally separate from the tranquil throng.  I always understood that my fellow protestors and I were connected; however I thought the bond was but peripheral.

I was more aware of my relationship with passer-bys.  The people who looked at me as I glazed upon them were meaningful to me.  They still are.  We commune.  I, without distraction, or conversation, focus on the eyes of every being who walks, rides a bicycle, or drives by.  Slowly, over time, I learned to recognize a few regular travelers.  These individuals became known to me, and me to them.  Admittedly, we knew each other only as faces who frequently smiled and waved.  Some met me with scorn.  Nonetheless, for me, life was good!  Isolated in my little world on the North side of the street was wondrous.  

At least it was, until two weeks ago.  Each week, I walk to the Peace Corner.  I need the exercise.  A back injury necessitates brisk strolls, besides a workout clears the mind and air.  Also, I prefer to be environmentally conscious.  Therefore, I am not the one who carries a very large and heavy bag of signs.  Someone with a vehicle has always been the provider of posters.  Granted, over the years, the signs have been transferred from one carrier to another and then, back again.  Since my situation prohibits participation in this exchange, I am not considered a prime candidate for the traditional banner swap.

Consequently, if I arrive at the Peace Corner before others I can choose to wait for a sign, or do as I did recently.  Cross the intersection.  Go to what I think of as my own littler Peace Corner.  Extend my digits in the sign of a V and hope people respond.  In the past when I thought to do this, the need was quickly dashed.  The person with the signs arrived.  

Only once did I have to wait more than mere minutes.  On that rainy day, I had an automobile.  I drove to a store, purchased poster board and markers, then made my own banner.  On that day, as in all the weeks and years before, I was convinced only words would work to communicate my vision.  I thought I understood what is true in South Florida and how that might affect my “audience,” the people who passed by it in a car, on a bicycle, in a wheel car, or only on two feet.

Be it amongst the peace people, or those who travel the streets of Florida, the community changes. When the weather is warm, the Everglades State looks somewhat empty.  When it is cold in the North, people journey south.  Thus, those I see each Saturday are not necessarily neighbors, friends, or family.  Likely, I will never meet a Jane, John, José, Juanita, or others, who sees me at the Peace Corner.  Janeka and Jared are just as anyone else, a blurred vision who enters and exits my life before we can truly connect.  

Conversations at the crossroads, while welcome, are rare.  To those who travel ’round the block, I am but a person who stands on the street on Saturday’s with a sign that reads, “Love!  Not War.  Love!”  Even to some of those who once gathered at the Peace Corner, I may only be the woman, dressed in all white, who occupies the Northwest curb.  Yet, surprisingly to me, on two occasions now, that might has been enough to inspire a thought, to evoke a response, and to energize persons who have not seen me before.

As of today, twice, on a Saturday, I walked to the Peace Corner and discovered I was alone.  The bag of signs, and other activists were absent.  After minutes, still no one appeared. I wondered; what would I do.  In each instance, without a word, I crossed to the Northwest side of the juncture.  I held up my fingers in the sign of peace, as I moved with traffic.  

I looked at those who trekked South, and persons who passed going west.  I hoped for a sign of support and acknowledgement.  I found much!

As I experienced the energy, I contemplated the characteristic concept of messaging.  Research reveals, the message, at least in advertisements, is said to be “irrelevant.”  While I, personally, think the term is troublesome, for I trust that all aspects of an issue or a statement are important, the theory put forth was, for me, fascinating.

Public announcements, pronouncements, or promotions  “which were low on emotional content had no effect on how favourable the public were towards” the product, the person who proposed a practice, even if the poster, or visual proclamation “was high in news and information.”  In other words, my statements, the phraseology painted on my sign, was, relatively speaking, insignificant in the scope of what occurred.  

What mattered more was the emotionally charged subject, the sight of a sensitive soul who silently stands vigil for peace.  Consistency counts.  I faithfully appear each week, stand in the same spot, and offer the identifiable hand symbol.  Also, I choose to carry a single sign week after week, month after month, and year, after year.  I always remain calm, and quiet.  I am never confrontational, and possibly, it is significant that more often than not, I stand unaccompanied.  For Saturday memorials held in homage to global harmony, I dress in nothing but white.  The hue recognizably represents peace.  Dye duplication, I discern, accentuates the theme.

However, what I had not considered may be more important.  The subject I broach evokes emotion, as does my manner.  I thank all who acknowledge me with kindness.  Since my focus is on faces, and not on conversations with my peers, I can and do involve myself, or my the medium, which, as Mister McLuhan would offer, is an extension of me in “human affairs.”  My more recent enterprise, sans placard, introduced the novelty that could affect attitudes.  If nothing else, it was noticed.  An abundance of people expressed appreciation for someone small in stature, who stands on a street corner only to show support for the notion of peace.

For so long I believed my signage was my strength.  Now I realize that other nuances speak more loudly than the written word.  The subjects of War and Peace are emotional ones.  Others who observe a little lass, dressed in white, who waves with love in her eyes might choose to empathize, to express exasperation, or to take no notice of a reality they wish to escape.

The effects are palpable, as are the feelings, those of the individuals who respond to the message, and my own.. My presence is familiar to regular travelers. My visible commitment may cause them to comment or counter.  Subtlety might have been the more significant statement to those not acquainted with my weekly pilgrimage.  I cannot be certain why people react as they have.

Nonetheless, I now understand, all that I trusted to be true might not have been.  The weight was not in the words I had boldly painted on my poster board.  It is as Marshall McLuhan understood all along. “it is only too typical that the “content” of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium.”  As McLuhan’s acumen screamed, “The medium is the message.”

The words in my written communication were never the motivator.  These were but an inspiration, an invitation, and a confirmation.  In ”War and Peace in the Global Village,” published in 1968, Mister McLuhan presented a collection of epigrams and pictures.  He offered the possibility, that “war is an involuntary quest for identity.” Perchance, a peaceful action is as well.  People may find their sense of self in an opportunity to speak to world harmony.  If true, that would be the charm,

I trust that peace on the planet may not appear on a first, second, or third trial.  Nonetheless, I have faith that the light that glows when people connect in quiet ways will come.  I have seen it, once, twice, and maybe this week, it will come again.

The medium.  The message.  The references . . .

Every Woman; Elizabeth Edwards



GMA – Elizabeth Edwards on Oprah

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

She is an eloquent speaker, an expressive author.  Elizabeth Edwards is effervescent, effusive, and has an excellent mind.  She understands profound policy issues as easily as she prepares a sandwich.   Her memoir appeared on The New York Times bestseller list.  Few think of Elizabeth Edwards as every woman.  Other daughters of Eve might say Edwards is exceptional; surely, she is not as I am.  Yet, life experiences might have taught Elizabeth Edwards otherwise.  Just as other ladies, she is brilliant, beautiful, and not nearly equal to a man.

For years, millions of Americans thought Elizabeth Edwards could be a political power in her own right.  However, friends aver, Elizabeth never had an interest in that.   First and foremost, the role Elizabeth Edwards has said is most significant to her is that of Mom.  She was happy to support her husband, glad for the opportunity to speak on his behest.  However, Ms Edwards was content to be behind the scenes.

The wife and mother believed as much of the country did.   Her spouse, John, was quite superior.  Not only was he an accomplished attorney, as was she, He was a Presidential candidate in 2008 and a Vice President aspirant in 2004.  John Edwards had a following, as did Elizabeth.  Each was “stunningly” successful in their work.  Certainly, the two were characterized as a powerful pair.  Neither could be called common.  Average Americans, they were not.  Still, John was the one who could command an audience, or a country.

He was handsome.  Granted, in her youth, Elizabeth was also smashing.  However, by 1998, a woman told an Edwards pollster the lovely ‘Lizabeth looked like his [John’s] mother, or older sister.  Indeed, this casual observer said of the then future Senator’s spouse, “I like that he’s got a fat wife.”   In the new book, “Game Change,” which documents the doings within the 2008 Presidential campaign, it is revealed that the aforementioned anonymous woman remarked in relief, “I thought he’d be married to a Barbie or a cheerleader.”  Perhaps these verbalized thoughts were the first reported glimpse into the present.  Elizabeth Edwards is every woman.  Infrequently, is John Edwards spouse looked upon as a separate individual.  Ms Edwards is regarded as unequal.

Ostensibly, Elizabeth and John were thought to have an exceptional life.   In truth, they were as you and I are.  Elizabeth Edwards and her husband are never free from human emotions.

Humans, adult men, women, adolescents, and sandlot age persons tell others a tale.  People weave a yarn that helps to inform others it also instructs the storyteller.  Dan P. McAdams, a Professor of Psychology at Northwestern and Author of the 2006 book, “The Redemptive Self” states, “(T)hese narratives guide behavior in every moment, and frame not only how we see the past but how we see ourselves in the future.”  This may explain why no two persons are alike.  However, the thought might not help to explicate what is real for a woman and not necessarily for a man.

Either might think themselves a failure if a relationship is severed.  Each could characterize himself or herself as someone who is not good enough. Perchance, societal standards will cause a woman greater stress.  A female might believe herself, damaged goods.  While Americans state that they have progressed beyond such suppositions, in actuality, any or many a label can classify a divorcee as undesirable.  Some will say she could not satisfy her man. Her age might ensure that she is thought to be an unattractive asset.  Perchance, some will say, she was too forthcoming, overly friendly when in the company of other men, a flirt, a floozy, and a femme fatale.  

Then there are the financial ramifications and considerations.  Men, before a divorce and after fare far better fiscally than their counterparts do.  Interestingly, a study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that men who think of women in a more traditional, some would say sexist manner earn more money than those chaps with equalitarian views.  The variance is vast.  The more old-fashioned a gent might be, the greater his rewards.

Women, on the other hand, make less on average than men do.  Parents may posture that an excellent education will nullify the gender gap.  However, the Pay Gap Persists; Women Still Make Less, than men do. Surely, most surmise, Elizabeth Edwards will be amongst the exception.  She need not worry.  Once separate, the conventional wisdom is, Elizabeth Edwards will be equal.  The accepted thought is Edwards is not every woman.

After all, Ms Edwards graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a degree in English. She went on to study American literature and ultimately secured her degree in law. She certainly is set for life. However, her status as a “professional” person, one out in the work-world became less of a priority.  Elizabeth Edwards, as her friends will attest to, thinks of herself as the proud mother of four children: Catharine, Emma Claire, and Jack. Her first child, Wade, died in 1996.  Time away from the office takes a fiscal toll.

In truth, even if Ms Edwards had remained a fixture in a solid firm, she would have experienced as most every other woman has.  Women Earn Less Than Men, Especially at the Top.  No matter the tale Elizabeth or every other woman might tell themselves, there are some facts that females know they must face.  Emotionally we can evolve.  Economically, the road is rougher for the “fairer” sex.

Only the desire to treat someone of a different sex fairly is great.  Parity is not the reality. Be it a former spouse with whom we have feuded, a friend, male or female by nature, wives wronged, and women righted, wish to achieve equality.  This may be why many women welcomed the prospect of “no fault” divorce.

While it is fine to think that we might not wish to place the onus on one or the other partner, in truth, the notion of a “no fault” divorce has done much harm.   A blameless split severs more than a legal bond.  It presents “perverse consequences for women,” says Lenore J. Weitzman, Associate Professor of Sociology at Stanford.  Divorce for women is just different than it is for men.  Perhaps, “There are enormous financial ramifications” even if you are Elizabeth Edwards.  Potential economic woes must worry any woman who contemplates the disillusion of a marriage.  The appearance of wealth, for women, maintained while married, will not warm the cockles of a heart hurt.  Nor will the façade fill her coffers.  Frequently, females face financial ruin, realized in divorce.

That truth has power.  Does a wife such as Elizabeth Edwards weigh the practical and or parse the paradox of a deceitful philanderer.  This may depend on the missus, the mistress, the money, and more.  In a moment, the yarn spun may be sufficient.  In the next minute, the same saga may sound silly, insincere, or just more of the madness.  If a husband is All apologies and earnestly expresses remorse, a couple could come to terms with what occurred.  An admission could kindle forgiveness, or after a series of confessions, one too many might be the permission to leave that a scorned wife sought.  Elizabeth Edwards stated she was “relieved” and hoped husband John’s long delayed disclosure would end the seemingly eternal drama that had become her life.

What we do not know; nor does the soon to be footloose and fancy-free Elizabeth, is how her saga will evolve.  While Elizabeth Edwards is every woman, she is like no one else.  Her tragedy, comic relief, travel, and she are uniquely her own.  This is true whether one’s name is Ellen, Emma, Eileen, Eve, or even Rielle.  What differs is who directs our performance, the stories told.

What might matter most to someone such as Elizabeth Edwards is how the eventuality of a divorce will affect her health.  Will this woman, who loves her life as a mom, be able to help her children?  Divorce, It Seems, Can Make You Ill. Indeed, the research reveals Divorce undermines health in ways remarriage doesn’t heal.  What is a aggrieved Eve or Elizabeth to do?

A captive American audience awaits the details, the decision, or knowledge of the direction a resolute Ms Edwards will take.  For months, or perhaps years, observers asked of the screenplay that appeared often on American television screens, in tabloids, and in books.  Some wives expressed sympathy for exactly what they witnessed in their own marriages.  Singles also empathized.  Elizabeth Edward’s experience is not isolated to the institution of wedlock.  The similarities scream out.

Women pose.  They posture.  Females hide the pain, and the shame. They may shout, shriek, or calmly express distress.  “I am so determined. This time I will lose 40 pounds,” said Elizabeth Edwards as she greeted a guest at the door of her home.  Did she wish to present herself at her best for her husband?  Might Ms Edwards words “show a lack of pretense,” or, as her critics say, was the statement but another act on Elizabeth’s. part.  What role did and does Elizabeth play in this drama?  Can anyone know for sure?

Is she a caricature, stereotyped as a spouse?  What is the story Elizabeth tells herself and others? A women’s place is in the home, on the campaign trail, to pale in comparison to her husband.  

Might her yarn be the same is true if a dame is a professional person, a politician, a plumber, or a Professors wife.   A women’s work is never done, be it that of a domestic, a doctor, a lawyer, a baker, or candlestick maker.  Elizabeth Edwards, as many women can attest to the notion, when you are of the fairer sex, praise pours in sparingly.  Disparagement is distributed frequently. At times, the two are synonymous.  

The former North Carolina Senator’s erstwhile aide Andrew Young exemplifies this.  In his tome titled “The Politician” Elizabeth Edwards is described as the wife and mother could not keep her man.  She “became intoxicated by power, and sometimes looked the other way.”

The Edwards Adviser, as do most, at least in America, acquiesced to the old adage, there is a good woman, behind every man.  A gent does not act alone.  Certainly, John Edwards did not.  Mister Young, in his writings, marvels that Rielle Hunter and Elizabeth Edwards each moved John to do as he has, or perhaps the two damsels did as all people do.  

With societal standards in mind, they pen a tale that reflects their truth.  The title; This is your life (and How You Tell It.)  Men might have opportunities that allow for a more sensational, secure, and solid plot.

Woman work on a screenplay more mired in woes.  She persistently updates the plot.   Just as Elizabeth Edwards, she transforms the treatment of our own life.  She learns and finds Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers. For some, the saga was audacious, and certainly not what they expected from an authority on the law.  Others saw them selves.  Every woman might relate to the reality, Elizabeth Edwards has learned every woman is as she., effervescent, effusive, bearers of excellent minds.  We all experience hurts and heartaches, many of our own making, many more that are not.

“I am a woman.  Here me roar.”  Watch me soar.  I may occupy the planet “in numbers too big to ignore,” but will I ever realize the heights, or have rights equal to those of a man.

Every Woman; Elizabeth Edwards . . .