A little bit of magic
at the Feb. 16th Peace Rally
Here is what happened to us at the Peace March we went to sunday, Feb.
[Fukin' San Francisco! The Chinese New Year was saturday, and they
-- the only of all cities participating in the peace march -- moved
their peace march to the 16th so the Chinese could use the city for
their own celebration! We rock!]
Scott and I followed the peace march to the UN Peace plaza in front
of the Civic Center in San Francisco. I was drawn to the fountain
in the square, and then was captured by the FDR quote inscribed on the stone
in the fountain. [I wish I could remember it -- it was lovely and quite
Then we read the large black granite monolith that had the UN Human
Rights charter or somesuch. I wish I could remember. We read
it and it was quite moving.
I didn't know that the UN charter was written and signed in San Francisco.
That's what I get for being home schooled by scientists...no good history
education... :) Ah well.
We then walked up the plaza towards the Civic Center, and towards the
speakers. As we walked, we noticed that
the UN charter preamble
was inscribed in stone [it is written in stone!] in chunks along
the walkway -- one line for each stone. We read each as we walked.
The weight of it, the fountain quote, the monolith...all stated things
we wanted to hold dear, and which seemed like every single one
had been shat upon by our dear resident... It was heart-breaking
to read them, to feel the desire for peace and respect for the human condition,
and to feel that such noble dreams were being dissed by our own country.
By the time we got to this one:
to ensure by the acceptance of principles and
the institution of methods,
Scott broke down into tears. We stood there and cried for a time,
so angry and frustrated, and confused, and feeling like beautiful dreams
were being shattered...
that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest,
We came apart and looked at eachother, crying. Suddenly, I said,
"I have to put flowers on that one." There was a fruit stand nearby
and they also sold flowers. We each bought a bunch of cheap chrysanthemums
[$2 each bundle] and went to lay them down along the words.
Even before we finished laying them out, people were stopping and reading
what was there. I suddenly felt that magic was beginning to happen.
I was carrying a blanket to sit on while listening to the speakers [we
were out at a party the night before until 4am! so I wanted to nap too]
and we set it down for a while, just watching the reactions of the people
walking by. After no more than a couple minutes, I told Scott I didn't
want to leave, I just wanted to watch the people.
People would walk by, then suddenly stop when they noticed the flowers.
Then they'd read what was written. Many left more flowers. Within
about 10-20 minutes, there were twice the flowers we had left.
Yes, some people walked by, not noticing. Some accidentally kicked
the flowers [some even took some away for themselves.] But
others picked them back up and placed them back with the words.
- One little boy asked, "dad? Why are people putting flowers
on these words? What do they mean?" And the dad read the words
to him, and explained that the people who created the UN felt the phrase
was important enough to put in their charter.
- Some high school kids stopped and were reading. One girl --
with her hair all done up, and stylish jeans [Hispanic] suddenly opened
her mouth, like "Oooooooh! So that's what it means!" She gripped
the arm of her [black] boyfriend as he also read and was moved. The
four of them together discussed it, looking back a couple times as they
- One little girl stood there, looking at the flowers, as her mother
stood behind her, wrapping her arms around her, pointing to each word as
she read it softly into her ear. They talked about it as they walked
- One business woman -- with suit and platinum blonde hair -- stopped
at each stone as she walked, reading the rest of them.
- I enjoyed the magic of watching other people tend the "offerings",
but Scott enjoyed tending it himself. Once, while he was over there,
moving flowers and trampled rose petals [lots of roses, though we hadn't
bought any ourselves], a man came up to him. "Did you do this?" he
asked. Scott said, "well, my wife and I started it, but other people
are putting flowers here as well." Turns out he designed the
part of the plaza where the preamble was included in the walk [and the monolith
and the quote in the rock.] The plaza had been built at the time when
the charter was signed, but for the anniversary, they had wanted more about
the UN to be in the plaza itself, and those changes were what he had designed.
He was very pleased, since -- as he said -- people tend to walk over
the words and not read them. The flowers really made people notice
what was written there and to stop and read it. We exchanged email addresses,
and I was very sad we didn't have our camera. A picture of the four
of us [his wife too] would have been memorable!
- A guy came over to us sitting on our blanket. He asked us if
we'd done this and we admitted yes, but it had taken on a life of its own.
He was very glad we'd done it. He talked to us for a good while --
he said we had been easy to pick out. :) And a few minutes later, he
bought his own flowers and added them too, with a nod to us and a smile before
- One woman walked by in tears. I jumped up and Scott and I held
her. "We are so fucked!" she cried between sobs -- she looked as
if she had been to peace rallies in the 60's. "This is so stupid!
Why are we doing this?!?!?!" I just kept saying, "it can't happen!
We would be stupid if we went to war! It just can't happen!"
She thanked us and moved on to the rally itself.
- A number of friends of ours stopped by. We made them read,
then sat around discussing the war.
- Many many people took pictures and footage of the stone, the words,
the flowers. A number of people stopped and wrote it down on paper
before they left to remember it or cherish it.
- One black guy -- who took a fantastic video shot with his
camera sitting on the ground, a rose close up, as the flowers receded away
[I wish I could have seen it] -- smiled as he want by, looking and looking
us in the eye, wondering, guessing if we were the ones who'd done this, then
he held out his fist at me, and I held out mine and he touched it, wordless,
knuckle-to-knuckle, with a little nod.
- Around 5pm we left. As we were walking out -- and it was sure
hard to tear away from the ongoing reactions of people to the flowers --
one man was cutting some red vinyl sticker material. he was cutting
it into strips and using it to underline these words earlier in the preamble:
>to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,
which twice in our
We had arrived with little preparation. No signs, not even the
ones MoveOn.org offered people to print out and use at the rally.
But we came away feeling like we'd done more than just "show up."
I know I grew, finally knowing how significant San Francisco is
to the UN and these world events in particular. And I hope others
grew from our punctuation of those words this weekend...
>lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
"I'm just underlining them so people will read them!" he said.
"Did you see the flowers up ahead?" we asked. "Oh yes, of course!"
he said. We smiled to eachother. "Thank you for adding the underlines,"
we said and walked on.
The UN is, indeed, a noble organization, one that we as a nation should
hold dear, and cherish our membership in. It was founded on the dream
of eliminating war, and upholding the rights of all humans, in the same way
our own constitution guarantees these rights for American citizens.
We should hold true that these rights are deserved by all people in
all nations and we should work hard to enforce peace on this planet.
Here's some pictures taken by our friend Dan Foygel from his
Here's a pic on someone else's site [click on the pic and scroll down to
the bottom -- lots of other fun pics too!]:
Here's the Civic Center
-- we were in line with the plaza, but just off the edge of