An Invitation by one of Hilo’s faithful peace vigilers!


Why I Vigil

by Pam Graham

Friday, August 9th was the 65th Anniversary of the United States bombing of Hiroshima in Japan. Today, Aug. 28th is the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

The Fukushima nuclear plant is steadily releasing radioactive waste water into the ocean and atmosphere by the ton.


Our Armed Forces are still stationed in the mid East with plans to retaliate for (the alleged) use of (chemical) biological warfare against citizens of Syria by it’s government. The whole world is captive to radiation and much of the world is still at war.


Have you ever asked yourself, “Why would anyone stand, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade holding up a sign about the evils of war and the need for peace when it seems so useless, inefficient or just plain stupid? Haven’t those anti war and anti violence people noticed that there have always been wars and wars keep happening; that nations take up arms against ‘their enemies‘ when their rights to govern according to their constitutions are threatened, and that ‘only the strong survive’? What’s the matter with them? Why don’t they wake up?”


I have. I ask myself this every time I attend a vigil, protest injustice and violence, lift up a sign in favor of peace, or talk out against the way our system of governance operates.  When violence and injustice are condoned under the pretense of defense, or some future gain, we as a species are committing murder and then suicide and eventually extinction. We are bringing more suffering into the world because we can’t survive for long in a world where humanity or nature become expendable in the name of defense and profit. And we still have not learned the lesson that, when we put ourselves in the seat of judgement deciding who shall live or die, who is expendable, we tighten the noose around our own necks…our children’s necks, our lovers necks, our parents neck, and future generations necks because it will be just a matter of time before we become expendable in the relentless drive for power and profit. It’s just a matter of time.


In the name of defense and profit we are dehumanizing ourselves and others, destroying and contaminating that which sustains us all. We are elevating destructive power and profit over humanity, over nature, and most importantly, over love: that intrinsically sacred act whereby we recognize and respect another for the simple sake of his/her humanity. We seem to have forgotten that, when ‘the other’ is seen as another human being, we can choose to act with compassion…not only for ‘them’ but for us and future generations.


Love enables humans to be compassionate; to act in ways that honor our mutuality, such as recognizing that, were the situation reversed, ‘they’ could be ‘us’. Compassion isn’t based on what another may look like or how they may act or what they possess. Rather, compassion allows us to see clearly that violence begets violence and there must be a higher, more enlightened life-enhancing way to overcome differences and live on this planet together less violently, less destructively.


By standing and holding a sign at a vigil, protesting injustice and violence in favor of peace, or speaking out against the corruption in our system of governance, I bear witness to the belief that humans, as a species, can transcend/rise above greed, profit, the illusion that ‘might makes right’, injustices and violence.


What is a nation but groups of human beings trying to live in harmony with their environments…with that which gives sustenance. Up to now, with our myopic view of the meaning of life’ we act with impudence, not realizing that every action/non-action has long (generations) lasting and life impacting (generative or destructive) consequences. If there was some way to take back the bad/destructive things we have wrecked on the world through the concept of ‘civilizing the world’, I believe the average person would take that action, because I believe we finally ‘get it’ that the time for being ignorant and lazy, selfish and naive, or uninformed and trusting is over. It is common knowledge that we have gone over the line of human decency and environmental desecration. I believe that when a lot of us take action it will have a ripple effect and others will be motivated/moved to step forward and take action/do something for the sake of our lives. I still believe we CAN change the direction we are headed …our demise as a species.


This is why I Witness.


Most Friday’s I participate in the weekly Peace Vigil in downtown HIlo at the Federal Building (Post Office 3:30-5PM). This week marks the 622th week this Peace Vigil has taken place.


Please, join me if you are a kindred spirit. It does us all good.