Column - Honk for eternal lifeThere are some things in life that are just impossible to understand: how infinity can go on forever, why time goes so slow at work while going so fast when we’re on vacation, and why anyone would listen to country music.
By: Lowell Anderson, Alexandria Echo Press
There are some things in life that are just impossible to understand: how infinity can go on forever, why time goes so slow at work while going so fast when we’re on vacation, and why anyone would listen to country music.
Lately, I’ve been wondering about one of the other eternal mysteries: How does honking your horn create peace? To me, the sound of honking horns is anything but peaceful – it reminds me of the noise and confusion of a busy city, or the angry feeling I get if someone blows their horn at me in traffic. But, apparently, to the group of protesters who regularly gather in front of Alexandria City Hall holding “Honk for Peace” signs, it is a peaceful sound.
I’ve often wondered what they’re trying to accomplish by standing out there, what they’re hoping to change. During the presidential campaign, I thought I understood: They were protesting against the hated George Bush and “his evil plan to destroy the world.” But now, I just don’t get it. According to their signs, they value peace – yet the truth is the intersection would be a lot more peaceful without them there. In addition to the noise of honking horns, I’m afraid that sooner or later the spectacle they are creating is going to cause an accident. And if other people are anything like me, they get annoyed or even angry every time they see them. In short, they’re not creating any peace.
I believe in peace – as much as anyone – everyone wants peace. Yet most of us know that lasting peace is largely an unattainable goal. Those of us who live in the real world know that sometimes peace only comes at the cost of fighting. Peace is a great goal, but don’t expect too much of it in this life.
Standing on a corner holding a peace sign is not going to change the reality of the world. They might as well be holding signs that say, “No one should ever die: Honk for eternal life.”
We can all be thankful that our ancestors didn’t adopt the hippie-peace idea that wars and conflict are never justified. If they had, there would be no United States of America – we’d still be an English colony. It’s because people were willing to fight for what they believed in that we exist today. The Declaration of Independence didn’t make us free, it only declared our intent. Our freedom was won only because we were willing to put peace aside and fight.
Later, during the Civil War, when the time came to make a decision about slavery and whether or not we would be one united country, we also chose to fight for what we believed in. Without the sacrifice of those who died in America’s deadliest war, we wouldn’t have the privilege of living where we do today; we would instead live in a series of small, independent state-countries, much like Europe.
We’ve been tested many times over the years, including World War II and, most recently, the September 11 attacks. The answer has never been to ignore conflict just for the sake of peace.
There were probably several times where, with the gift of hindsight, it would have been better to stay out of certain conflicts. But who’s to say until time has passed whether action or inaction was best and what events may change the world forever. I’m sure there were those who during the Civil War thought that we should just let the South leave. Inaction, in that case, would have caused the disintegration of the United States and many of the freedoms we hold dear.
I believe in freedom of speech. For now I’ll grant that these protesters have a right to be there and have their voices heard, even though they are bordering on abusing that right by using the sidewalk to hold their peace club meeting.
I can’t help but think that maybe their real desire is not so much for peace, as it is for recognition. Maybe they simply want to blow their own horn.
Although I hate to give them the attention they crave, I would suggest that the next time you drive by, you turn on your headlights as a sign that you’re tired of seeing them there. Let them know that although you value peace, you also live in the real world where peace sometimes comes only through conflict – and rarely from holding a sign.