A few weeks ago, Emily Rubino and Kate Alexander- the two point people for Peace Action New York State- took me and another Hofstra student, Adam, to the “Divest from the War Machine Summit” hosted by Code Pink in Washington D.C. I have always been against war and in my freshman year of college I became involved with the Peace Action chapter at my school. I now hold the position of treasurer for this club.
When the president of the club, Emilie Beck, asked me to go to this summit I immediately said yes. Everything that Emilie has told me to see, go to or join has exceeded my expectations, which are usually pretty high. The summit consisted of a 9am-5pm session on Saturday and a shorter session on Sunday morning. Honestly, I am still digesting everything I learned from that weekend. The urgency and passion in every speakers voice was impossible to ignore. The hurt and suffering pulled my heart from my chest hearing from Gina Best who had lost her daughter to the militarized police force in the United States despite the fact that her daughter had served over seas. This grandmother now has a hearing impaired grandchild due to the bombs thrown at the car of an innocent patriotic and veteran American family.
Hearing from experts in all fields share their loses and wins while working to divest from war I gained a lifetime of inspiration. People like Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans will forever represent to me the activist that I seek to be.
I was exposed to Jarrett Smith, an example of a mayor from a city just outside of our nations capital who has committed to making Takoma Park a Nuclear Free Zone. He was so well spoken and a true representation of what a politician so devoted to peace looks like.
We heard from a man named Larry Wilkerson, a republican who was part of the system and now actively protests the unprecedented greed and violence that war today represents. It moved me to see that the humanity is still there.
You can’t help but wonder how many others who are a part of endless war wish that they could speak out. These inspirational speakers have changed my activism career and my outlook on life forever. They reminded us that we should learn from other movements and to remember to include everyone when creating the world without war.
There is an unbelievable amount of money spent on pointless wars. What changed for me at this Code Pink conference was the ability for you and I to divest our money and to encourage banks, universities, and mayors to divest. Remember that once these billions of dollars are divested, the money must be used.
I want to share with you all something that kept coming up while I was in D.C. and that was to change the vocabulary we use. Using the word military rather than defense; focus rather than target. Call it what it is. A man named Vijay Prashad coined the term and I am obsessed with Capitalist planetary Destruction rather than climate change. They asked us to please remember that this movement is not a new movement, which many have been working long and hard for change. These people are movement ancestors.
Right now the fabric that we live on is making a killing on killing and the summit that I attended told me what to do about it. The organization Code Pink has inspired me tremendously. They asked me, and I will ask you, to divest from war. You can go to codepink.org and pledge. And my hope is that you will and that you will convince others to as well.