Opening of IMAGINE PeaceFest – 11am SLT on 11.11.11

11 11 2011

Trill Zapatero opens the festival









I’m angry. And I bet, that you’re all angry too.
There’s a lot to be angry about.
About corporate greed.
About the lies of the corporate media
About the destruction of the environment
About the wars fueled and funded by corporate greed
All the suffering in the world caused directly or indirectly by corporate greed
Even by our own secret greed that is caused by our own fear of survival because we live in a society dictated  and advertised to by corporate greed.
That’s a lot to be angry about. All that greed.
Greed isn’t good. It isn’t good for anyone.
It isn’t good for the 99 percent,  It isn’t good for the disconnected 1percent who hide in fear behind their tall gates.
Greed separates us from each other, it makes of life a contest rather than a collaboration.  So it’s the opposite of a party or a celebration.
Greed is very dissatisfying, Picture a big greedy pig, who can’t even enjoy the hunk of corn in his mouth cause he’s thinking about the bite he’s going to soon be taking from that corn that’s just out of reach. Greed is lonely. Greed is jealous. How will you feel if the pig next to you has some corn that looks better than yours? Greed if fearful. What will you do when the corn runs out?
Greed sucks

And we all have ideas and demands about how to fix this messed up place that our world has become. All of them good and all of them well deserved.  Regulate the banks, Free Education,  Stop environmental degredation, Bring the Troops home. Free Healthcare, Stop violence against Women, Civil Rights, End the Wars. It’s so difficult to merge it all in to a nice media friendly soundbite.

My ‘one demand’ here is to Stop the War on Afghanistan. I thought I’d focus on this one thing, because  well I’m one person and this is my one contribution . Everybody’s demand is equally important. Also, it’s that the organization, RAWA really gives me hope and I think could serve as a model for how to organize and how to make changes in our own cultures.

RAWA , the revolutionary association of the Women of Afghanistan has been around since 1971 when Meena,  a student of law at the university of Kabul started it as a student group.
It has since preservered and actually grown through the soviet occupation,  the soviet withdrawl  and ensuing civil war, through the Taliban regime and now the occupation of Nato and their allies the Warlords who are equally fundamentalistic and as cruel as the Taliban.  They formed classes and taught schools illegally during the Taliban regime. opened clinics and hospitals in refugee camps in Pakistan. When Meena , the founder of RAWA,was assassinated in 1987, rather than become disillusioned the organization renewed it’s commitment to fighting for social justice no matter the sacrifice it required.  RAWA is a grassroots organization , there are no salaries , no board of directors to satisfy, who are working together to bring about social justice and democracy to Afghanistan. They run schools, orphanages, hospitals, literacy programs, income generating programs …RAWA is to this day an underground organization often going about under cover of the burqa. Such precautions might seem extraordinary for an organisation that is committed to improving the lot of the people– a commitment that President Hamid Karzai and his international backers frequently cite as one of the success stories of post-Taliban Afghanistan. But RAWA is famous for its strong critiques on what it sees as the underlying problems for women: Karzai, the warlords who surround the president, the Taliban and the US-led Nato forces in the country.

So the inspiration we can get from RAWA is their courage and commitment and willingness to put away  personal ambitions in the interest of the collective wellbeing.  And the willingness to speak truth to power despite the danger it puts them into. Additionally, RAWA’s website is often cited as an example of web activism that has potential for raising global awareness. So really check out the website,  It’s loaded with images and a collection of articles, videos,…

I’d like to close with some words by Naomi Klein that she spoke to the occupiers of Zacotti Park.

I am talking about changing the underlying values that govern our society. That is hard to fit into a single media-friendly demand, and it’s also hard to figure out how to do it. But it is no less urgent for being difficult.

That is what I see happening in this square. In the way you are feeding each other, keeping each other warm, sharing information freely and proving health care, meditation classes and empowerment training. My favorite sign here says “I care about you.” In a culture that trains people to avoid each other’s gaze, to say, “Let them die,” that is a deeply radical statement.

A few final thoughts. In this great struggle, here are some things that don’t matter.

– What we wear.

– Whether we shake our fists or make peace signs.

– Whether we can fit our dreams for a better world into a media soundbite.

And here are a few things that do matter.

– Our courage.

– Our moral compass.

– How we treat each other.

We have picked a fight with the most powerful economic and political forces on the planet. That’s frightening. And as this movement grows from strength to strength, it will get more frightening. Always be aware that there will be a temptation to shift to smaller targets – like, say, the person sitting next to you at this meeting. After all, that is a battle that’s easier to win.

Don’t give in to the temptation. I’m not saying don’t call each other on shit. But this time, let’s treat each other as if we plan to work side by side in struggle for many, many years to come. Because the task before will demand nothing less.

Let’s treat this beautiful movement as if it is most important thing in the world. Because it is. It really is.



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