Monday, December 21, 2009

Peace Grannies and War Toys

I have to say, I'm a sucker for unconventional acts of civil disobedience that draw attention to important issues. We in the U.S. have now spent most of the decade having a pair of imperialistic wars sold, spun, and soft pedaled to us by a pair of supposed leaders. Well, I never have bought into any of the plethora of defenses for our continued aggressions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and neither, I'm guessing, have the Peace Grannies. I don't know about you, but when it comes to issues of war and peace, both at a macro level and a micro level, I have a hell of a lot more faith in the views of grandmothers and great grandmothers than in the pack of pundits, politicians, and military politicos who lead the nation into war. Sure, not every grandmother is going to "stand for peace," like the women in the Granny Peace Brigade do, but I think you'd be hard pressed find enough war positive grandmothers to fill a room, even a small room. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but from what I have seen, the experience of living as a woman on this planet for several decades seems to be enough for most to shatter the stories about warfare as a force for good in the world. Even World War II - the ultimate when it comes to debate about "just warfare" - doesn't seem to hold up really well when it comes to conversations with women who lived during that time. Again, they might believe it was the only thing that could have been done, but there's not much of the glorifying and genuflecting that men seem to do about the same conflict. Maybe I live in a bubble, but this has been my experience anyway.

So, the Granny Peace Brigade is currently "invading" stores selling war-flavored toys in order to highlight a link between childhood play and adult militarism. Here's an article about the campaign, which begins with the following paragraph:

Weary Brooklyn Christmas shoppers were unexpectedly entertained on Friday afternoon, Dec. 18, when a troupe of approximately 20 Granny Peace Brigade members and Raging Grannies sang revised Christmas carols condemning war toys at the TARGET Store in Flatbush's Atlantic Shopping Center simultaneously with a serious demonstration against the toxic playthings. This was the second protest in the grannies' recently-launched campaign called "NO MORE WAR TOYS, NO MORE WARS."

Now, you might think all of this is silly. Or maybe you disagree with the link between war-themed toys and adult beliefs and behavior. Or maybe you're pissed at me for messing with the military. But you have to admit, it's much harder to dismiss a group of elderly women speaking their minds in a public setting than any group of college students and twenty somethings that often are found populating protests.

For the record, here's the statement of Lillian Pollak, the oldest of the group at age 94, "We won't be here forever, and if we can't stop these deplorable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in our lifetime, we must at least do all within our power to convince our grandchildren that they must end the cycle of killing and waste we have been engaging in for far too long. We're determined to continue this struggle to bring back appropriate and healthy toys."

I can only hope to live as long and be as spunky as Lillian is. She's a lot more inspiring to me than anyone currently running our country.


Robyn said...

Yay! Go grandmas! Thank you for posting that, Nathan.

I would add that it increasingly difficult to find clothes for boys that don't reflect a military appearance. Camouflage is everywhere and in every colour scheme. What message do we send when our kids play with war toys and dress like little soldiers?

ZenDotStudio said...

nice seasonal post. it alludes to something I've been thinking about since my blog post on women. It reminds me, as a mother, of that fierce, tender love that you have for your child, how it's the essence of the type of love the Buddha talks about and how every mother knows it in their heart. I can't speak for fathers because I haven't been one in this lifetime but it does make me wonder as you point out why you will always find so many women who abhor or at least question war. We understand that there is no argument, no grudge, no disagreement that is worth the loss of that one precious life.

spldbch said...

I've always wondered if women had ruled the world over the centuries if there would have been as many wars.