LOS ANGELES TIMES
Sunday October 09, 2005
Protesters Press Quietly for an End to War
* Activist Cindy Sheehan joins peace advocate Thich Nhat Hanh as thousands march at L.A.'s MacArthur Park.
Thousands gathered in
Activist mom Cindy Sheehan, whose summer vigil outside President Bush's
"When you speak to people, you should speak to them in a language they can understand. By doing that, we can turn our enemies into our friends."
Hanh, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., conceived and organized this "silent peace walk" as a "gift to the people of
Peace must arise from within the self, he said, before it can spread out across the "collective unconscious" and put an end to conflict and war.
"Walk as if you kiss the earth with your feet, really tenderly, with all your love," he told the crowd. "If you know how to touch the present moment, you will touch the ultimate, you will touch God."
And so approximately 3,000 people rose quietly about 11:30 a.m. and followed Hanh through the cordoned-off streets surrounding the park.
Monks and nuns, many from Hanh's
Afterward, participants lounged on the grass surrounding the stage and ate lunch -- in silence.
Monks, nuns and others shared their food with those who had none. Hanh offered a blessing and suggested that each person eat as mindfully as they walked; "Chew each bite maybe 30 times, until the food tastes very good," he said.
"I've been to antiwar rallies where we carry picket signs and march, and it's very aggressive," said Michelle Thomas, a former actor from
Hanh's philosophy "is more pro-peace than anti-something," said Patrick Netter, an author who demonstrates fitness gear on TV, sitting nearby. "I'm not religious; I'm more interested in spirituality. What he says resonates with me. I think these things make a difference. Like when you drop a rock into a lake: Concentric circles spread out across its surface."
Ana Gonzalez felt more alienated than transformed, however. "I brought the flag of my country,
Earlier that morning, before the masses arrived, Hanh sat in a small room in the park's community center chatting with his comedian friend Garry Shandling and a few monks and nuns.