Cindy Sheehan leads Tour de Peace to ToledoWritten by Stacy Jurich | | email@example.com
Activist Cindy Sheehan is leading Tour de Peace across the country, bicycling from her son Casey’s grave in California to Washington, D.C., Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq in 2004. In 2005, Cindy began a widely reported protest at then-President George W. Bush’s home in Crawford, Texas.
Toledo Free Press: What is the mission of Tour de Peace?
Sheehan: Bike rides are often held to oppose terrible diseases. We believe that war, plutocracy and environmental destruction are diseases with the potential to turn fatal.
Much of the ride from Casey’s grave to the White House follows the historic Route 66, a road that John Steinbeck called the Mother Road in his novel “The Grapes of Wrath.”
We’re riding because, while we may have a Nobel Peace Prize laureate in the White House, we do not have peace. We have expanded presidential war powers, a new type of war fought with flying robots and biweekly meetings in the White House to check names off a “kill list.” We have expanded powers of warrantless spying, imprisonment without trial and retribution against whistle-blowers.
Toledo Free Press: Your final destination is the White House on July 3.
Sheehan: The U.S. military presence abroad is expanding into new nations with troops and drones. Military spending is draining our economy dry, as every dollar spent on it could have produced more jobs if spent more wisely, such as on education, infrastructure or green energy. Is $170 billion a year for foreign bases among the priorities of people in Toledo and across the country?
We talk about a war in Afghanistan as if it’s ending, while planning to lengthen its duration from 11 years to 13. Most wars didn’t take two years from start to finish. Our new Secretary of State John Kerry once asked how you could ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam. We don’t hear enough people asking such questions about Afghanistan.
While we have a president who admits that climate change exists, we still have a president and a Congress that work to exacerbate the problem rather than to alleviate it. Fossil fuel corporations are given massive subsidies, and carbon is still not taxed. We’re riding for serious sustainable policies, and for government accountability to the people.
Toledo Free Press: How can we take politics out of peace and bring peacemaking to the people?
Sheehan: If an individual really cares about peace and the entire human race, then he/she cannot possibly be affiliated with either of the two war parties. I finally realized in 2007 that the Democrats were no better than the Republicans when it comes to the issue of war and peace and that’s when my activism really became principled and also when I lost a lot of financial support and volunteers.
Until everyone breaks free of this slavery to partisan politics and performs activism based on their core principles, then we will not have peace. The war party has principles, but those principles are base and based on murder for profit. I don’t think many “average” Americans have those same principles.
Toledo Free Press: What do you hope to achieve as you stop in communities across the country and attend rallies and events?
Sheehan: We hope to meet many new and old friends along the way, to talk to them about their concerns, and to carry those concerns with us to Washington.
“This is the beginning,” Steinbeck wrote, “From ‘I’ to ‘we’. If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into ‘I’, and cuts you off forever from the ‘we’.”
That pessimistic analysis looks ever more accurate, as wealth and power grow ever more concentrated. But we who care about our future together will work to build a broad nonviolent movement among those who do understand the fundamental injustice of a government that does not answer to its people, even while assaulting other people abroad in the name of democracy.
Toledo Free Press: How can people in Toledo participate?
Sheehan: Grow our own food. Form cooperatives to educate and raise our children in a peaceful environment and in peaceful ways to resolve conflict. Build conscious and conscientious communities that teach real values and love for all humankind while demonstrating love and care on a local level. Try to identify one thing you can do every day to advance the cause of peace.
We are extending an open invitation to those who would like to join the Tour de Peace (TourDePeace.org) for all or part of the route. We plan to arrive at Arlington National Cemetery on July 3 and to proceed from there to the White House.
Ride with us, or talk with us when we stop for a breather in Toledo.
Cindy Sheehan and the Tour de Peace will be in Toledo on June 9. Some of her stops will include: International Park, 2:00-3:15 p.m.; Blessed Sacrament Parish Festival, 3:30-4 p.m.; Toledo Bikes! 5-5:30 p.m.; Nestor for Toledo fundraiser at Black Kite, 5:45-6 p.m.; Potluck at Occupy the Garden, 6:30 p.m. (open to the public). Those interested in riding with Tour de Peace from Toledo to Bowling Green on June 9, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The Tour will be at the Happy Badger in BG on June 10 from 6-8 p.m. For more information, visit www.tourdepeace.org.