First, thanks very much, Gwen, for setting out concisely the "history" of the peace initiatives in our area. As far as sentiments about current peace work are concerned, I would second much of what Gwen said. Many of us, I believe, given demands on our time and the prevailing political sentiments of southwest Missouri, did close to all we could over the last five years to raise awareness about the horrific consequences and costs of the war. Though folks may not believe me, I am as passionately opposed to the war now as I was in the fall of 2002, well before we started fighting it. I believe I participated also in protests against the bombing of Afghanistan before that, in October 2001. And, though we probably should not dwell on it, several of us endured sustained, hurtful criticism for letters we wrote to the Joplin Globe. Throughout all this, I must say, the absence of college and college-age protesters was notable, with a few outstanding exceptions of very concerned students. Gwen, I know, was a dedicated faculty sponsor of SPEAK until the organization was down to two dedicated students, after the rest lost interest...Right now, I am exhausted and see little hope for the effectiveness of the kind of demonstrations we did in the past. I agree with Gwen in that I think my limited time is better spent on supporting a presidential candidate who is opposed to the war, though I am deeply unsatisfied with both Obama and Clinton--and all the Democrats in the Senate--for not doing more right now to bargain, to deal with their colleagues in politically realistic ways to get beyond the spectre of the 60-vote majority they always cite as an excuse. The Democrats, I believe, in an utterly cynical way have written off realistic attempts to end the war until after the election. Hundreds or thousands more will die in those months. If anyone knows any effective way to get the Democratic Senators to engage, in a politically realistic way, with their Republican colleagues, I'd like to hear it. My impression is that they've taken the easy way out by hiding behind the "obstacle" of needing 60, rather than 51, votes to do anything meaningful. Cutting off funding for the war, I'm convinced, is the only thing that will stop it.
While it would be wrong to say there is a peace movement on campus, there are certainly people on campus who are passionately concerned about peace issues so much so that in the lead up to the war in Iraq, we formed a community group,"Peace Awareness" and staged multiple marches and demonstrations. Most of these were well covered in the Joplin Independent, local tv stations, and even the Joplin Globe and I assume they are still in the Independent's archives. While the peace group that was formed on campus has been inactive the last couple of years, it also staged the "Week of Peace" during the first week of April, 2003. Faculty, staff, and students spent 10 a.m. - noon everyday, around the flag pole on campus trying to raise people's awareness of the problems that nearly everyone is now aware of with the war. During Earth Day in 2003, the student group, SPEAK, (Student Peace Education Action Knowledge) set up a display to educate people about the environmental issues related to the war. SPEAK sponsored a film series, showing anti-war movies of various sorts, which were sparsely attended but effective fund raisers given the passions of the non-students involved. Peace Awareness and SPEAK individuals collaborated with the Green Gorillas at PSU and Peace Network of the Ozarks in Springfield on some projects and demonstrations. Two years ago, there was a group of people from Peace Awareness and some newcomers, who got together monthly, to read the names of fallen soldiers...Given the mentality of SW Missouri, I think people did an admirable job in staying focused and persisting. However, it was exhausting. For myself, when ultra conservative Republican Chuck Haegel from Nebraska started advocating troop withdrawals, I felt my energy could be better spent elsewhere, including supporting Democratic and Independent candidates for political office. Many people from the peace days, did the same thing. Craig, I encourage you to consider reviving SPEAK.
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