By Gerald “Strib” Stribling
I recently posted a video clip on my Facebook page my daughter sent me from the Women’s March in Washington on January 20th.
My wife, sister, daughter and 6 year old granddaughter all marched together, chanting and standing around for the most part, as an expected crowd of 200,000 marchers ended up swelling to a half-million. Little Oona made the most of it, and the following Monday she got to stand up and recite her Women’s March chants in front of the whole first grade. My wife and sister both had horrifically sore feet afterward. I hope that doesn’t spell the end of the Movement.
My dear friend Larry commented on the video post. Larry is a very interesting dude. Too short to join the Marines, he enlisted in the Navy and became a corpsman, a combat medic, went to Vietnam and saw more combat with the Marines than he would have seen if he’d become a grunt. Larry got out of the Navy and became a registered nurse. He and I worked together for a number of years transitioning incarcerated military veterans into the community.
“Please help me out here,” Larry wrote. “There is so much crap going on about the Marches, so many people saying things…and expressing their views. I just would like to know the simple reasoning for the Marches and what they are out there to accomplish. I am so tired of trying to weed out info from all the media…”
I thought a minute, and then finally had to confess, “Hell, I don’t know,” and deferred the question to my daughter.
Bear in mind that Larry and I were young adults during a time when street and campus protests against the war in Vietnam involved hundreds of thousands of people. They were literally protesting against us, the military. If you wore the uniform you were pariahs in your own country. The public didn’t treat us like they treat military people now. We were baby killers. We were lieutenant Calley.
So I understand Larry’s discomfort.
The simple reasoning for the Women’s March covers a lot of territory. Like during the 60s: the protests were ostensibly against the war, but what was really being protested was the military draft. The most popular chant at those marches was, “Hell no, we won’t go!” Poor people fought in Vietnam; rich people could always find a way to get out of it. Donald Trump was a “draft-dodger,” as we called them in those days.
Well, Larry, you and I turn the same jaundiced eyes toward the Women’s March, because we knew what the “anti-war” protests were really about.
Larry, the Women’s March was in support of women’s rights, human rights, reproductive rights, workplace equality, the right to breastfeed in public, equal pay for equal work, and the need for greater female representation in government and corporate structures. The women united are against sexism, misogyny, domestic violence and sexual abuse. I’m sure there are a few other noble causes involved, but I wasn’t paying a lot of attention.
But of course the real reason for the Women’s March was the election.
Liberal women in this country were devastated by Hilary Clinton’s defeat. The first woman candidate for President from a major political party in history lost to a DRAFT DODGER, Larry, a goddamn draft dodger.
Of course he is a sexist scumbag, too, and probably a megalomaniac who thinks he can get away with anything (and so far, he has), but your opinion may vary, and I respect your views. I’m just trying to understand the Women’s March too. I didn’t vote this year for the first time since 1972.
The Women’s March was about Donald Trump, Larry. And it was about anger. A whole lot of anger. Anger leads to hate. The Buddha said it, and so did Yoda.
Both of us are retired angels of mercy, Larry. We are bodhisattvas who have lived lives of kindness and compassion, sometimes in the face of danger or incredible odds. The work we did together with the incarcerated vets alone, turning 300 ex-cons into taxpayers, have earned us celestial accolades, if you believe in that sort of thing. But for us it has always been about kindness and compassion. Do you have anger, Larry? Have you ever known hate? I haven’t either. And maybe that’s why it is hard for us to understand. I mean, if anyone ever tried to grab our pussies, we could rupture the grabber’s larynx with a well-placed elbow shot. No anger. No hatred. Just that case of the shakes you get after an adrenaline rush.
The Women’s March was a great and noble thing, the biggest peaceful protest ever staged. But can they keep up the momentum? Will it go the way of the Occupy Movement?
Be forewarned, protesters: the anti-war movement was not successful, it did little to shorten the Vietnam war. Nixon was elected in 1968 with a promise that he had a secret plan to end the war. But the war went on, and on, and on, because of that poisonous man in the White House. In 1968 the Democrats nominated bumbling Hubert Humphrey for President, when the far more popular candidate, the peace candidate Eugene McCarthy, got steamrolled in Chicago, with anti-war riots happening in the streets, with “the whole world is watching.”
It was the political machine versus the will of the people, and the political machine won out. The bad guy was elected (twice!), the war went on for six more brutal years, and 30,000 more American boys were slaughtered. Richard Nixon, my Commander in Chief. A guy like that can do a lot of damage.
It will be interesting to see what happens, Larry. I’d hate to see all that anger go to waste.
Editor: Dana Gornall
He wrote Buddhism for Dudes as a not-so-subtle, basic examination of the essence of Buddhist philosophy. It’s short and funny and to the point. “Way too much Buddhist information is too complicated to wade through, and some of it is fairyland voodoo, full of metaphysical improbabilities. Buddhism isn’t a religion, it’s a way to live a happy life. This is not hard stuff to understand.”
Stribling writes a blog called Buddhism for Tough Guys. “There are lots of tough guy Buddhists out there willing to take a bullet for anybody. One of their mottoes is ‘Just because I am a person who loves peace doesn’t mean that I have forgotten how to be violent’.” He once broke up an assault with a little kitchen broom. “It’s my best story,” he says.