We have all seen a lot of American flags since 9/11, but now as our country seems to be rushing toward war, I?ve been thinking about the Statue of Liberty, which embodies a more compassionate vision of our national destiny.
In ?The New Colossus,? Emma Lazarus? poem inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, Liberty is ?not like the brazen giant of Greek fame with conquering limbs astride from land to land,? but instead, ?a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning and her name Mother of Exiles.?
The Statue of Liberty is the essence of invitation: ?Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores; send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.?
She is the perfect icon for activism that leads with the heart, which is what our cover story is about. But, for me, she is particularly apropos for the form of insurgent activism that calls itself Code Pink.
A short while ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop writing the piece about Code Pink that appears on page 66 when I got a call from my friend Susan White. She insisted on coming to see me right then, because she was obsessed with getting the Code Pink movement going in the Twin Cities. And it occurred to me that I would be better able to explain the phenomenon of Code Pink and encourage others to embrace it if we had more examples of how it works. Together we composed an e-mail inviting 10 women to come to my house four days later. It has been nine days since that first meeting and this is what has happened in the meantime:
More than 60 women attended our second meeting, and we?ve been profiled by a local newspaper columnist, covered on local radio and TV twice as well as on ABC-TV news nationally. A weekend rally in sub-zero weather drew more than 2,000 people, many swathed in hot pink. We sold all of our 600 buttons in an hour, and I later sold another 300 the next day without leaving my house. I?m told that pink fleece is getting scarce in this town, and that second-hand stores have been pretty well pink picked over.
A drive-time talk radio show host has vowed to report Code Pink sightings every day this week, so a few hours ago, under cover of darkness, a small cadre of women wrapped a landmark pedestrian bridge in pink fabric.
So, what is it that works about Code Pink? First of all, hot pink is a highly magnetic color?you can?t not see it. The Code Pink buttons are big and bold and an almost irresistible invitation to conversations?with all kinds of people?about what?s going on in our country. I?ve long since lost count of the people who have called me in astonishment to relate the number and depth of the conversations the button has provoked.
Anyone can start with a pink button?even someone who has never been an activist, who isn?t an expert, who is short on time or money?anyone who is willing to be visible and willing to have a conversation.
Go to codepink.utne.com to get connected with the latest on the Code Pink contagion (and tools for spreading it). We?ve posted links to other sites, suggestions for how to get Code Pink bubbling where you are, and online Code Pink conversations, as well as instructions for how to join existing face-to-face-Code Pink conversations and groups.
We are seeing this as the natural next step for salons, an invitation to talk about and act on the principles Lady Liberty represents. Now if we can just get a pink button on her.
P.S.: Check out the ad for InRadio on page 25. This is a company spawned by creative Utne people in partnership with Lens Publishing, and we?re very excited about its prospects.