By Anna Daniels
One week ago, the SDFP editorial board sent a short email to its writers and contributors, asking for their thoughts on the topic of War and Peace. We were curious to see if there was an interest in this broader theme that would go beyond the usual media treatment of Veterans Day.
Our email was immediately filled with responses. Writers sent articles, video links and poetry. We were frankly surprised at the interest. It told us two important things.
It is apparent that there are few opportunities for civic engagement on this topic and its complex historical and contemporary elements. It also told us that the San Diego Free Press is in a unique position to provide a platform for that civic engagement.
The editors spent last weekend trying to figure out what the week would look like. Would there be enough original work? Would there be a breadth to the offerings within the constraints of a one week publication cycle?
Over the course of the week we published twenty articles on the theme of War and Peace. The video in our home page video box was updated daily and we were still unable to run all of the video suggestions that we received. The majority of the articles are original work from SDFP contributors. A few of the articles are encores from our archives.
What wasn’t surprising, but remains thought provoking, is how few of the submissions addressed the issue of peace. What does peace look and feel like? How can we wage peace ?
One year ago this month SDFP published an article about Kimberly Rivera, the imprisoned war resistor who gave birth to her son while serving her ten month sentence here in San Diego. It is just one example of the breadth of coverage SDFP has provided in the past.
What wasn’t surprising, but remains thought provoking, is how few of the submissions addressed the issue of peace. What does peace look and feel like? How can we wage peace? The video we ran about the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall raises the question of the elusive “peace dividend” that we imagined with the end of the Cold War. Not many bombs have been hammered into trolleys since it ended.
Karen Kenyon’s poem “La Jolla Shores Sundown,” Lori Saldaña’s poem “War & Peace in my Classroom” and Gil Fields’ article about the sleeping bag distribution program for homeless vets present the fraught terrain that vets face when returning home from war and military service. Dana Levy wrote “I only did two years in the service to my country and it is still constantly always right under the surface of my thoughts and actions.” “After the Wars, City Heights” shifts the discussion to refugees finding not-war in a mid-city community.
Rex Butter’s poem “the last Taboo” is a reminder of what the search for peace is up against:
peace never gets invited to peace conferences
peace won’t trade on Wall Street
peace can’t afford to bankroll Hollywood propaganda empires
peace can’t make itself heard over the ear shattering wargasms
peace won’t be born of bombs
Which brings us back to the question–“What does peace look and feel like?” SDFP writer Norma Damashek offers this intriguing video of a flash mob at Copenhagen’s Central Station:
The SDFP editorial board is deeply grateful to the contributors and readers who participated in the conversation this week. While our formal treatment of the topic of War and Peace ends today, our coverage of it will continue–it is in our DNA. Thank you all for making sure of that.