Common Hope
By R. D. Flavin

     There was another anti-war rally on the Boston Common yesterday, but this one was especially embarrassing.  Oldsters with “Peace Now” signs and pierced punks with “Bush is a War Criminal” t-shirts are nothing new, as there’ve been similar protests during the last few years from the Maoist Internationalist Movement, the October 29th Coalition (featuring Cindy Sheehan), and others.  It wasn’t various speakers encouraging the crowd not to vote for Democrats or the 9-11 conspiracy nuts blaming the terrorist attacks on the U. S. government which caused me to grimace in shame, but rather the extraordinary high number of homeless people wrapped in blankets on the grass, asleep on benches, and listlessly walking about which disturbed me.  Forty years ago, the late Prof. Fred Hoyle (Cambridge, astronomy) wrote a science fiction novel titled, October the Fifth is Too Late (London: Heinemann; 1966).  It's an amusing adventure about manipulating time and I’m reminded of the anti-war demonstrations in 1970, when I first read an old paperback copy of the novel I'd purchased at a thrift-store for a dime.  Time is a trickster and for many on the Common yesterday it truly is too late, but for some ...there’s still hope.

     The rally was sponsored by The World Can’t Wait, an organization formed last year by the Revolutionary Communist Party and C. Clark Kissinger.  They advocate “political upheaval” and believe elections are not the answer.  Islamic fundamentalists threaten me with death if I don’t convert, Christian fundamentalists threaten me with Hell if I read Harry Potter books, and my galpal threatens to toss my belongings in the street if I don’t start raising the toilet seat before I urinate.  These are threatening times and something should be done about my not raising the toilet seat more often.  There were over 200 related anti-war rallies across the U. S. yesterday, but I don’t feel threatened by the Communists.  I do, however, feel threatened by the selective indifference demonstrated by the demonstrators at the rallies.

     Earlier in the week I received an email describing Robert Anton Wilson’s rapidly failing health and dire financial difficulties.  Bob’s PPS (post-polio syndrome) is demanding its final toll and his journey's end is expected very soon.  One of his close friends began an online campaign to raise funds to keep Bob from being evicted from his apartment.  He’s one of my heroes and I was deeply saddened to read of his situation.  As I considered my ability to help, the next day another email arrived announcing that the request had been successful and he now has the money to stay in his apartment as long as he can.  I owe Bob a lot and, apparently, others do as well.  His advice, “Think for yourself, schmuck,” has inspired me on many occasions.  Yesterday, at the anti-war rally, for example.

     I spent forty-five minutes or so before the rally talking with a guy from Portsmouth, NH who was carrying a sign suggesting the U. S. withdraw its troops from Iraq and use the money to help the homeless.  Most of the discussion concerned separating the issues.  As the rally began, I left, as others had joined in the discussion and I admitted that I felt more than a little like a  “Balrog in the woodpile,” a line lifted from the satire, Bored of the Rings, and meaning that I didn’t feel as if I belonged.  After some errands, I was walking past the rally about an hour later when a speaker took to the bandstand and greeted the crowd in Russian.  I walked straight through the crowd, stood directly in front of the speaker and coughed or cleared my throat every time something stupid was said.  I moved a lot of phlegm around over the next ten minutes.

     Another speaker began talking about never voting Republican, having problems with Democrats, but unable to entirely distance himself from the Democratic Party.  As I was walking away I passed a woman dressed as a GITMO detainee and said that the color of her jumpsuit (orange) looked good on her.  I noticed three MIBs standing in front of a Boston police car (actually, two men and a woman [WIB?]) and assumed a stance of repose between them and the police car.  All wore funeral black, not exactly the average suit shade for a local office worker, and were holding printed material in their hands.  Politicians?  As the speaker continued his uncomfortable “To vote or not to vote” soliloquy, the pitch-black garbed ones turned and left.  Then the cops left.  A hand was thrust before me with a pamphlet and some fake currency.  I said, “No, thank you,” before I saw a picture of Bush and the “9-11" abbreviation.  Satire is great, sometimes the weirder and nastier the better, but I immediately left behind any identification with a Balrog and became Gandalf the Grey on the Bridge of Khazâd-dûm in Moria, my thoughts screaming, “You shall not pass!”.

Example of a "Deception Dollar" given away at a Communist-sponsored anti-war rally by 9-11 conspiracy nuts.

     Two oldsters were handing out material accusing the Bush administration of faking the terrorist attacks on 9-11 to further capitalism and make sure that the war-machine is well greased.  Such appalling foolishness has been refuted again and again.  Yet, the conspiracy theorists persist...  I offered my opinion that our government is not competent enough for such a heinous scenario and they parlayed with mentions of our War of 1812, Pearl Harbor and Operation Northwoods under Kennedy. They shrugged off my personal assessment that Prof. Steven Jones (Brigham Young University, physics), currently on paid suspension for his 9-11 publications and comments which accuse Jews and our government of the 9-11 murders, as one of them said he had a Master’s Degree from M.I.T. in engineering and could find no fault with Jones’ whack theory.  Although, honestly, why should they?  Massachusetts’ voters elected a Mormon governor without caring squat about his pseudoscientific cult beliefs, it therefore stands that a Mormon professor who has published about Mayan stigmata which he claims that Native Americans knew about "Christ" before Chris Columbus should bother these locals.  I’m sorry, I’m getting a sour feeling in my stomach.  Columbus Day is this Monday and those 9-11 conspiracy nuts make me sick.  One of them said he didn’t believe we went to the Moon and defended his absurd position with, “It was on televison.  Do you believe everything you see on television?”  Ouch...

     I suggest that dereligification is necessary to combat religious fundamentalism.  We gave religion its power and now it’s time to take it away.  Until, if ever, religion desists with threats of death and punishment, it deserves no significant position in our life.  I also suspect that much pseudoscience and political extremism is a result of individuals being disappointed with religion.  I’d allow myself to feel sorry for those who feel they’ve been victimized by religion, but so many have traded in one poor fitting habit for another.  And, tragically, they’re selfish and refuse to acknowledge problems they could solve if they tried.  The homeless of the Boston Common didn’t pay attention to those who chose not to go to school or work and attend a Communist-sponsored anti-war rally.  The homeless don’t usually go to school or have jobs.  Safety and food are important to them.  I feel threatened by those who attended the rally because they don’t care about reality. 

     Don’t poseur-protest, contribute.  Don’t complain, help.  Don’t give up, it’ll be okay.  Our common hope is tomorrow and here it is ...another day. 


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