Archive Page 2

Stockton

Well, I hit the 3/4 mark today!  A couple of quick updates…  First, based on several factors I’ve changed course and decided on a final destination of Gettysburg, PA.  I expect to get to the end of the walk on August 6th if all goes according to plan, which it rarely does. 

Second, my original phone pooped out on me and lost all contact information for some of the people I’ve stayed with so far.  I have some people’s info on paper or email, but I have lost quite a few numbers.  So if you’re reading this and you want me to have your number, send it along by email or give me a call.  And I’ll make a special request to Liz from Northampton, MA–I lost your number and I don’t think I’ll be able to track it down unless you send it!

Namecalling

Lately I’ve been taking a very roundabout route through the ‘burbs of New Jersey.  Last night a sweet man who also happened to be the owner of a restaurant called The Quiet Man in Dover, NJ gave me a delicious dinner.  If you’re ever in Dover, stop by The Quiet Man for some excellent food!

By far the vast majority of people have been wonderful and positive in dealing with me, but lately I have had a couple of hostile reactions.  Last night a man saw my shirt and yelled “raghead!” from his truck, and recently someone posting on a forum discussing my blog offered his one word analysis of my walk: “Feminazi.”

I obviously don’t agree with these guys, but I think it is very useful to try to figure out where they’re coming from and what their comments say about our society. 

I’ll start with the “feminazi” comment.  I think that this word indicates a lot of fear on the part of the men who use it.  It sounds like they’re afraid that changes to gender roles would mean forcefully taking something away from them.  In the past I’ve done a lot of anti-violence education with groups of men, and I’m always amazed when they see a challenge to traditional gender roles as something that is threatening to them, rather than something that could offer them more freedom.  But it is a common reaction, and I think this is because our society does such a good job of convincing men and boys that the privilege they enjoy is worth more than the freedom they would gain if they weren’t forced to act “like men.”  In other words, the higher position in society is held out as a carrot, so most men never consider how big a role the stick plays in keeping them in line and making sure they conform, or what they lose when the women in their lives experience violence.

For the record, I think that the changes I’m talking about would give men a far better quality of life, and far more freedom.  I’m not interested in taking anything from men.  I’m interested in helping them (and women too).

Now, on to the “raghead” thing.  Unfortunately, I think this is a symptom of the strong anti-arab sentiment in America, and a tendency to lump everyone living in the Middle East into a single category.  This is an extremely dangerous way of looking at the world.  It makes it far too easy to manipulate Americans into supporting military action against any country with a large Muslim or Arab population.  If everyone in the region is a “raghead,” and therefore a terrorist, Iraq and Iran (and lots of other countries) are appropriate military targets even if they haven’t attacked us.  And it even makes sense to, in the words of one guy I talked to just as I was leaving for my walk, “Nuke the whole place”  (When asked which place he was referring to, he responded, “the whole area”).

I think it’s important not to get caught up in an angry reaction to these comments–that will only make it harder to understand them.  These people are responding out of fear, and we all do that sometimes.  Much better to try to understand and address their fears than it would be to respond by calling them names right back.

And finally, I think it’s important to understand the minority that thinks this way, but also to remember that the vast majority of people have responded with support, kindness and generosity.

Jersey City

After a trip through Queens and out to Long Island, where I met a very gifted massage therapist/healer who was nice enough to give me a massage, I’m moving on out through New Jersey.  I highly recommend the walk over the George Washington Bridge–what a view! 

I’m at mile 611 now, and the walk is starting to get more challenging.  But the people in Jersey City are super supportive and lots of fun to talk to, so they gave me a boost.

Look for an article on the walk in the Oyster Bay Guardian…

New York City!

I’ve made it to New York!  There’s nothing like the energy the people have here. 

I’m taking one day off to rest a foot that has gone into muscle spasms, but I expect to be back on track and heading to Brooklyn tomorrow.  I’ll do a loop through Long Island and then it’s out to New Jersey and on toward Philly and Washington, DC.

Look for a story about the walk in the Riverdale Press if you live in the Bronx!

Poughkeepsie

I’ve had an amazing few days going through beautiful land. I’ve been staying with some intentionally poor people for a few days, and some unintentionally poor people at times before that. I’ve also seen people living in luxury, with dogs that eat more and better food than many people, and everything in between. Seeing the different standards of living just minutes from each other has given me a real education in how perception affects our beliefs about what we do and do not need. Poverty sounds like a dreary and uncomfortable existence, but some of the financially wealthy people I’ve met feel poorer than those I’ve met who have no running water. I think that feeling of insecurity is the source of a lot of the aggression in the world.

And speaking of insecurity, the police stopped me yesterday. They said someone called them about me… In the age of “terror,” I suppose someone walking for peace looks very suspicious to some people. Peace Pilgrim always said that she’d never met a person who’d built a bomb shelter and felt safer for it. Very wise words, and much needed wisdom in a country that is trying to create safety for itself using some extremely misguided methods.

Look for articles about the walk in the Millerton News and Poughkeepsie Journal soon!

Favorite Quotes From Along The Way

“A country is defined not only by what it does, but by what it tolerates.” (Sign In Front of a Unitarian Church)

“Happiness is the process of letting go, again and again.” (Host #1)

“I was having a really bad day…  So I prayed that I would find someone who needed my help.”  (Host #20)

“Most of the people in this world spend the majority of their time getting enough water to meet their most basic needs.  And we shit in it.” (Host #18 )

“Come back next week!  We’re building a yurt!” (Someone at a collective farm in Barre)

Stockbridge

I’m almost in New York!  It will be very exciting to cross a state line.

Some numbers from my trip:

Types of animals spotted: 1 porcupine, 2 deer, 3 groundhogs, 2 rabbits, 3 herons, several hawks, lots of frogs, and I’m pretty sure chipmunks are plotting a world takeover.

Most common trash on the side of the road: 1st place–alcohol containers, 2nd place–coffee cups, 3rd place–cigarette containers

Worst cell phone service if you live in Massachusetts: Verizon

Number of homes opened to me for the night: 21

Number of these homes with goats: 3

Number of mothers who have insisted on feeding me because I reminded them of their child: 4

Number of attempts to convert me to another religion: 2

Number of hostile or otherwise frightening people I’ve met: 0

Number of moose attacks: 0

Number of blisters currently on my feet: 10

The one thing I’ve seen in every town, no matter how small: A war memorial


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