Sep 04

August 7, 2013 – Week #34


It was warm and sunny. I had to protest on the other side of Barrington Street, because I was with my children Sam and Will.

They sat in the grass and played with my smartphone as I held up my protest signs.

I was thinking about the anniversary of the US nuclear bombings of the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. For five years from 2004-2008, I helped to organize Peace Day in early August in Halifax to raise awareness about the continued threat nuclear weapons.

The female Irving employee who had shared her tragic story of having a miscarriage and being off of work for many months because she was very sick drove past me and waved.

Then, a tall man in his 60s came up to me and asked, “Who are you with? What organization?”

“No organization. I’m doing this on my own,” I replied.

“Really?” he said.

“Yes. I am just a concerned citizen. A mother,” and pointed to my kids.

“What are you protesting exactly?” he asked.

I told him about the federal government’s plan to spend $25 billion to build new warships for the Canadian navy.

“Why? Canada doesn’t have any enemies.” he said. He explained that he is American and captains a small commercial ship that makes a regular run to the Port of Halifax.

I told him how it will be American weapons manufacturers that will gain the most from this (war)shipbuilding contract.

“Yes, billions are made off of war,” he agreed.

I nodded, “War is a racket.” I asked him if he had ever heard of General Smedley Butler, the most well decorated American general in history. General Butler wrote an important book called “War is a Racket” in 1935. The book was so popular that Butler toured the US with it and it was re-printed in Readers Digest that year.

He said he had never heard of that book. He got out his pen and small notebook and jotted down the name.

I asked him if he’d ever read A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. “It’s the most important book to read for Americans,” I explained.

We talked about the United States’ government and US foreign policy. We also discussed what is going on in the US now – the foreclosures, bankruptcies, unemployment and poverty.

“What’s your name?” he asked me.

“Tamara,” I replied, “What’s yours?”

“John Reynolds,” he said, “Nice to meet you. What’s that name of the other book?”

I said to him that I would love for him to email me after he read “War is a Racket” or “A People’s History”. He smiled and said he would.

“Where’s a good place to sit and have a coffee?”  he asked.

“Just up the hill is the Hydrostone with a little park, shops and cafes. Just what you are looking for,” I answered.

“I enjoyed talking to you,” he said and walked away.

It was hard to count the number of supporters and opponents because of talking with John and watching my kids.

1 head shake and 1 wave in support and 1 finger in opposition.

Dedication – This August marks the 68th anniversary of US nuclear bombings of the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My post is dedicated to the Japanese survivors, the hibakusha, their dedicatoin to rid the world of these weapons of mass destruction. I also dedicate this post to the many organizations around the world who are working toward the abolition of nuclear weapons including Mayors for Peace, Global Zero, and Physicians for Global Survival Canada.

Jan 12

January 9, 2013 – Week #4

Group at WagainstWI was nervous today. Yesterday, Global TV said they wanted to come to my house to film me preparing for my protest and then outside the shipyard with my signs. I didn’t want to be alone. So, I emailed all my peace email lists to ask people to come and join me.

I was so pleased that Lucia, Carolyn, Brian, and my husband Ben came! Sarah stopped for a few minutes while out on her jog and I gave her some of the “Stop Harper’s Crimes: Climate, Militarism, Mining, Palestine” stickers to pass out. It was so nice to have a lot of help to hold up all the signs including the banner “Sink the Ship Strategy! Green Jobs, Not War Jobs.”

Global TV came at 12:15 pm and filmed the protest and interviewed all of us. I could overhear what Carolyn said in her interview as she was helping me hold up the banner, “I’m a retired school teacher. I used to tell my students that democracy is more than voting. It is taking a public stand about the things that you care about.”  Unfortunately her statement got cut in the clip that aired later on the 6 o’clock news, but it is such an important point to remember.

Carolyn’s comment reminded me of what great US historian and social activist Howard Zinn said many years ago, “Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.” We were only five people outside the shipyard, but we were taking direction action against the warships and we got 8 honks of support!

You can watch the Global TV clip here