Why Walk Alone?

I’m walking alone because I’d like to be safe walking alone.

In America, it is an unspoken truth that women and girls are not safe, even in times of “peace.”

Since the start of the war in Iraq, thousands of American women have been murdered by their intimate partners–more than the young men and women we have lost in the war. In addition, over two million American girls and women have been raped in that time.

The vast majority of the women in this country order their daily lives around a fear of male violence, making decisions about what to wear, where to go, and how to behave to best avoid abuse at the hands of men. Women are afraid to walk alone. But few people ever admit that a country where half of the population is forced to make day-to-day decisions based on a fear of violence is not at peace, even when it isn’t fighting a war. Even fewer will acknowledge that women’s fear is gender-specific: we are afraid of violence by men.

Women and girls are not the only ones who live in fear of male violence. Men commit over 88% of the violent crime in our country, and in fact most of the victims of this violence are men, not women. Women are much more likely to experience male sexual violence–a particularly terrifying possibility that effectively controls our lives and prevents most of us from living freely. But men and boys (especially men and boys who won’t conform to traditional gender roles) are not immune to the violence of other men.  When we talk about “school shootings,” “gang violence,” “terrorism,” war, and virtually every form of violence, torture, and abuse, it is tacitly assumed that the perpetrators are male, and this crucial information is disregarded as irrelevant and unremarkable.

It is time we ask ourselves what we have done to the men.

Men live with extreme pressure to conform to masculine “ideals.” This is reinforced by nearly every aspect of our culture, from parents to the media to male peer groups. We rarely allow men to express any emotion other than anger. Men and boys who act in ways that are not “masculine enough” are punished with decreased social status, exclusion from peer groups, and even violence.

Men in our culture are also taught to accept unfair entitlement based on their gender, and to devalue women. This cuts many men off from the one source of real friendship and acceptance that would be available to them. It also, obviously, encourages dehumanizing and violent behavior toward women and girls.

All of us–men and women–have taught the men in our culture that they must dominate others and that any other impulse will be punished.

In recent years, we have allowed the unnecessary deaths of over 600,000 Iraqi men, women, and children. We have destroyed most of our natural environment. One in twenty Americans (and, due to this country’s racism, one in three black men in America) will spend time in prison at some point in their lives. Our lives have been built on a foundation of domination and exploitation, and men are expected to uphold this dominance by using force.

I am walking across the country alone in an effort to bring attention to the central role that masculinity as we have created it plays in the extreme violence of our culture. I also hope to begin the process of finding the internal peace that will allow me to determine the best contribution I can make to addressing this problem and creating external peace–a peace in which women are not afraid to walk alone and men are free to be their true selves.

Logistics

I won’t carry food, money, or any means of providing shelter because I am attempting to give up the benefits I have gained through violence or exploitation. I won’t ask for anything while on my walk, and I will only take what is freely given. I’ll eat when given food, sleep when provided with safe shelter, and accept the protection and company of anyone who wants to walk with me for a while.

I am not part of any organization or religious group, and I won’t accept money. If you would like to give money to someone, I recommend a peace-supporting organization of your choice.

I’d like any media attention the walk receives to focus on peace, not on me. For this reason, I won’t be giving my name for the duration of this walk. I am happy to respond to the name “Peace” until then.

The inspiration for this walk came from the story of the original Peace Pilgrim. For more information about her amazing life, go to www.peacepilgrim.org.

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12 Responses to “More About The Walk”


  1. 1 Kel Vick May 25, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    This is so beautiful and courageous. mi casa su casa! Anything we have that will help meet your need we will freely provide. See you in Atlanta. Kel and Karla

  2. 2 Carl Weaver May 31, 2007 at 2:32 am

    This is amazing. Let me know if you are coming through DC. The door is always open.

  3. 3 Julie.."BCBSchef" June 16, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    cANT WAIT TO FEED YOU ! bLESSINGS ON YOUR FEET BLESSINGS ON YOUR EYES.

  4. 4 Mike Keane July 4, 2007 at 10:38 am

    I was happy to meet you for a minute in Fishkill today. I’m sure this experience will always be with you. I would have liked to have offered you a meal and lodging, but you said you were on your way to meet someone. Anyway, you can do a lot worse than following in Peace Pilgrim’s footsteps.

    God bless you,

    Mike Keane

  5. 5 Jonathan Mernit July 6, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Hello Folks,

    I saw a figure with a walking stick walking down Broadway, Route 9 in Irvington in Westchester County, New York, Friday, July 6, 2007 shortly after noon. After pulling my car over I met Pilgrim for Peace, what a joyous experience.

  6. 6 Daryl August 4, 2007 at 8:20 am

    Love and Support from the guys you met in Oakland, NJ

  7. 7 fellow human September 22, 2007 at 12:45 am

    Peace, Peace

    I am about to restart a walk across the country myself. I walked from NYC to mid-Ohio and ran smack dab into myself and an injured foot. That was a few months back. I’m in the process of revamping the whole thing and am busing to L.A. tomorrow to shortly turn around and attempt to walk back to New York.

    I’ve dubbed myself fellow human which is the only name I’ve given out for about a year now. Most people call me fellow.

    By the way, one of the issues I struggle with concerning the project I speak of is a tendency to expand and wander in my writings. Also the site is not structurally well at the moment, so if you, or anybody else, go/goes there just please understand that it’s going to be getting an overhaul that will hopefully result in it being more succinct, etc.

    So, I’d really like to know, where are you?

  8. 8 Josephine Cherry September 22, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    This is my first time hearing about the walk. I wish you God’s choices blessings and strength and continued health. Please let me know when you will be in New York City, or Brooklyn, the BRonx or Queens. May God keep you and bless you and us through change. I pray we can all come to that place called “Freedom” Continued “Peace” to you Josie

  9. 9 pilgrimforpeace September 23, 2007 at 2:14 am

    Hi Fellow and Josie,

    I’m actually in New York City. I’m done walking now and going to graduate school here.

    Fellow, good luck on your walk. The best advice I can give you, based on my own experience, is to try not to think too much. If you’re walking, just walk. I spent far too much of my walking time overthinking–it’s an easy thing to do if you’ve got that much time on your hands.

    -Peace

  10. 10 fellow human September 27, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    Sagacious advice, Peace: been there.

    That loan you received from the Peace Abbey was such a wonderful and trusting gesture. I love it that instead of treating that physical link- that piece of cloth that was connected to Peace- with attachment or protectiveness which would have centered on an impermanent “vessel” and a sweater, the fellow that freely loaned it in effect emulated what she embodied concerning human relations in the here and now.

    Please tell me, did the Abbey survive?

    On a different note, I seem to recall that the longest Peace ever went without food was four days. Just out of curiosity and as a sort of litmus test for the current general state of our countrymen (and women), would you mind telling me the maximum number of days you were allowed to go without sustenance?

    I meant to thank you in the comment I left prior to this one, but forgot. So, thank you for the actions you’ve taken, and will take, on behalf of all of us.

    I would enjoy and value hearing from you once I take to the road again in a couple weeks.

    In any event, may you be well, and go with care. -f

  11. 11 pilgrimforpeace October 15, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Fellow,

    Sorry I didn’t get back quickly. Email is really a faster way to reach me since I don’t login to the blog often…

    I didn’t have to go long without food, not even as long as Peace Pilgrim.

    -peace

  12. 12 Steve Miller December 1, 2007 at 1:13 am

    Hooray for you, Peace Pilgrim. I applaud your positive creative action. I am inspired. And I am glad you publicized what you’ve done, and that you’ve shared some of the wisdom you’ve gained from your own work and from people you’ve met on your walk.
    So much of the positive that we do is in our everyday, normal actions. Your extaordinary walk, meeting people at moments in their daily lives, showed the possibilities we all have. Your openness and purposefulness show your strength. You give a mighty message to those you met in person, and to us who read your blog.
    I hope you’ll say what more you’re doing after your 1000 miles.
    Thank you, Steve


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Walking for Peace

Starting June 1st, I’ll be walking at least 1,000 miles for peace. I will walk until given shelter and fast until given food. The way I understand the word, “peace” means internal peace, interpersonal peace, and peace on a national and international level. To get a little more specific, it also means that a young woman should be able to take a walk alone without fearing for her safety. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case right now. I’d like to help improve that situation.

Contact Me

peacepilgrim2007 @ gmail . com

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