Dear Members of WMD – Women Making a Difference,
Yesterday I had a meeting of our book-selection committee here at home, so it was perfect to take a day to do something else and to think of other things – – and to reflect on the events of this past weekend. So many of you attended one or both of the two “happenings”, and this morning it was your faces that awakened me. It was your voices that made my heart happy; it was you who have made the mischief we’ve made so worthwhile. As always happens, when I try to list people, someone is left out. So please try to understand that I simply want to thank you for coming on Saturday and/or on Sunday. If you were not able to attend an event, you might want to know a little of what happened.
On Saturday morning, it rained. As Gail said on Sunday, we should have traded days. The gorgeous day that dawned on Sunday was much more conducive to marching around the Oval in support of 350 Day. But, that rainy morning did not dampen the spirits of the wonderful group that filled the sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Milford. Young and old spoke out, sang out and rapped in honor of our support for this planet and the difficult work ahead in trying to reduce carbon emissions to 350 parts per million. After the inter-faith service, many of us donned our rain gear and started for the Oval, but then the rains really came and we had to turn back to the church. There, a warm and wonderful autumn soup awaited us, complemented by local greens and delicious desserts. It was a perfect time for many conversations with those who have worked on the climate issue. Tables of information gave us an opportunity to learn more about ways to help. Gail Denemark gave a lovely welcome to all participants and read a letter from Bill McKibben whose initiative inspired more than 5000350 actions around the world.
Sunday was such a different time, but again we had a great turn out and a completely different subject. Nancy Iannuzzelli had made all of the arrangements with the Amherst Library and had enlisted her husband’s help in setting up the DVD equipment so that we had no technical glitches. The public was invited, and there were many gentlemen who came with or without WMD wives. I was thrilled to see Joan Jones and her husband Nolan, who has recently had a stroke. Joan let us know that this was Nolan’s first outing; we so hope we didn’t set back his recovery process. Also, coming in just as we began, was Barbara Stromsted and her husband Erik, whom Pete and I have known forever – – since our daughters were in school together at Applewild in Fitchburg. Erik has recently had a mass removed from his brain, and though this was not his first outing, we again hope we did not slow his recovery. Two gentlemen introduced the Documentary, Rethinking Afghanistan, by letting us know it definitely had a point of view and was not “fair and balanced”. For 45 minutes our crowd of 40 some, perhaps as many as 50, who had filled the basement meeting room, were stilled. I was sitting just behind Christy Day, and certainly our “body language” was observable. We were riveted! We were saddened! We confirmed to ourselves, and perhaps others, that we ought to be out of Afghanistan.
When discussion began, a gentleman sitting behind me made a comment about our body language and the slant of the film, and we were underway. Dave let us know, in no uncertain terms, that he had spent lots of time in Afghanistan, that he was returning for the 4th time, and that he knew more about the situation there than any of the rest of us in the room. This was really the first time, at a WMD event, we have had someone who has deliberatively tried to take over the discussion, dismiss other points of view and burst in at every possible moment. This is my opinion.
And this is where I must use the term “learning experience”, for I hope it was for me. I felt it necessary after only a little time , to point out to all that this was an organization of women founded so that women’s voices, often crowded out by “gentlemen’s”, could be heard. I asked that the “gentlemen” give the women a chance to speak before taking over the discussion. My sweet husband let Dave know that he, Pete, wanted too to hear from the ladies. Well, HELP! We wanted to hear from Will, the young man showing the film, who has taken the job of Director of New Hampshire Peace Action. Will served in Afghanistan and has a very different point of view from Dave’s. Nancy Iannuzzelli, in her best teacher’s manner, asked Dave a few questions that gave us a little more information about Dave. What we do not know is if he served four different assignments as a military man, if he works for a contractor, if he drives supply trucks, or if he is in charge of some other responsibility. My husband suggested that he may be “A Soldier of Fortune”. Needless to say, the Sunday event at the library has heated my under collar. Nancy Iannuzzelli, an unflappable teacher, was thrilled to have a different point of view and to give us an opportunity to grow from the experience. She suggests that we monitor opinions only by allowing people a specific amount of time to speak and make sure everyone has an opportunity to weigh in on whatever subject we are discussing.
I am writing as little as possible, and it is already too long, but it is impossible to keep from venting. It would be so wonderful to hear from those of you who want to let us know how you reacted. Too, it has been suggested that we do it again. We could invite Will again, show the documentary again, and attempt to continue the conversation that was cut off too soon. Certainly there is no shortage of passion on the subject.
And, one more thing, thanks to those who provided cider and cookies on Sunday. We all look forward to the next time we make mischief.
Thank you for enduring my tirade.
P.S. Fondest and warmest thanks to Gail Denemark and the Saturday committee and to Nancy Iannuzzelli and her husband for making each event possible. Special fond and warm thanks to Christy Day and Betty Hall for their kind words of encouragement and support. And heartiest thanks to all of you whose beautiful faces I remember in attendance at both functions.