Sometimes anti-war protests are so subtle you can't even see them. That was the case yesterday with the "Nationwide Valentine's Day Strike." People simply stayed home. Mark Wholey, for one. He's a sculptor in Berkeley, Calif. The strike was his idea.
"It's going on right now," he said by telephone in the middle of the day. "There's thousands of people partaking in it. We are variously cleaning house, meditating, making love, making connections with the armed forces overseas, sacrificing some of our own usual life to make a change. ... We're not driving anywhere. ... We're not getting on the freeways. ... We're stepping out of the mainstream of economics, which means we're not part of the tax structure."
The only problem was that almost no one knew about it. Wholey sent out some press releases and the strike was mentioned in an alternative paper and on some computer bulletin boards. Wholey said he heard that the mayor of a nearby town closed his office.
Wholey says, "We stayed in bed for about an extra half an hour, and we started cleaning house. ... We just finished meditating on the idea that we're all brothers and sisters in this effort."
If that doesn't do the trick, then there's another tactic: visualize victory.
This is the concept dreamed up by Larry McManus, a psychotherapist and hypnotist from McHenry, Ill. "I had a Visualize Peace bumper sticker on my car. And I was absolutely bummed out when this thing started. I said to myself, the Visualize Peace thing didn't work, so ..."
The rest is history. As McManus wrote in a press release, "We're at war. So what are the basically good-spirited New Ager types like myself going to do? We can cry in our Chablis 'til the brie goes bad, but it won't change the basic fact that we're at war now and the only way to get peace is to get victory. So let's visualize victory!"
The plan is this: "On the 23rd of each month (V is the 23rd letter of the alphabet) at 1:23 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, everyone will close their eyes for two minutes and experience the pride and gratitude they feel for our troops as they fight and win peace for America."
(This movement hasn't ironed out all the kinks yet. V, if you want to get technical about it, is the 22nd letter of the alphabet.)
McManus is also offering Visualize Victory buttons. For two bucks each, of course.
Meanwhile, the director of the Peace Commission in Cambridge, Mass., is getting death threats. Since the war began, says Cathy Hoffman, "I have had more people calling with death threats and suggesting that peace is a waste of money and a completely idealistic attitude about the war ... and I've also gotten more calls from people saying, 'Thank goodness we have something like this in this city. ' "
The reason the Peace Commission gets people mad is that it is, in fact, an official department of the City of Cambridge. The commission operates on a budget of $43,500, with Hoffman's salary set at $29,000.
What does the Peace Commission do? It runs a peace camp in summer. It promotes multiculturalism in schools and respect for the ethnic and racial diversity of the community. And right now Hoffman is researching how much tax money in Cambridge is used to fund the military. She thinks people shouldn't have to pay "military taxes" if they don't want to. They should be able to designate how their money is spent, she says.
"I don't think it's right that it's the government that gets to decide," she said.
Who is making the death threats against her?
"The ones who say they want you dead or dropped out of a plane over Iraq without a parachute don't identify themselves."