fighting, by kim rivera

I want to share with you something from the event we attended last week in Parkdale, a Toronto neighbourhood where many US war resisters live - Kim Rivera and her family, Dean Walcott, Ryan and Jennifer Johnson, Dale Landry, Steve Yoczik, and before he moved away, Corey Glass, and others. It's a very diverse, working-class neighbourhood, full of immigrants, many of them refugees.

The event was held at a community centre; many of Kim's mom-friends from her children's school and health centre attended with their kids. The evening began with a Maya healing and prayer ceremony, conducted by a Parkdale resident in her native Spanish, with another friend translating. That set the tone of hope and peace, and also urgency.

Speakers included Geraldine Sadaway, a lawyer from Parkdale Legal Community Services, whose help has been so vital to the resisters and the campaign; actor and playwright Steven Bush, a Vietnam-era resister; City Councillor Gord Perks; a woman from Oakville who housed the Riveras when they first came to Canada; a few other resisters; and Parkdale Member of Parliament Gerard Kennedy.

In a very strong speech, Kennedy reminded us that this issue is not about a handful of Americans who will be treated badly if they are sent back. It's about the character of Canada. That's because we want Canada to go beyond mere tolerance, to fully welcome and respect all people who act on conscience and have had to leave their countries because of it.

He emphasized that the majority of Canadians, the mainstream, want war resisters to be able to stay; that it's not Kim Rivera's fight, it's our fight.

The main reason I wanted to write about this event was to share with you Kim Rivera's own words. In the community centre this week, she read a poem that she wrote. I found it very moving, and perhaps you will, too.

I was fighting your kind for killing my kind.

I was fighting to find weapons that could wipe out large populations of people.

I was fighting to free you from the bad men, that harmed you and your family.

I was fighting for your liberty.

I was fighting for peace.

I was fighting to keep my family safe from you and your family.

But in reality I was fighting to destroy everything you know and love.

I destroyed the land you live on.

I crushed your spirit.

In fighting I kept you silent.

In my fighting I oppressed your family.

In my fighting I kept you out of sight and out of the way so everything of value could be taken.

In my fighting I found that I was fighting to stay alive.

In these last thoughts of reality I find that I was becoming something that wasn't me, and that I didn't stand for as a person. In my heart everything I was fighting for wasn't great enough to give up any life.

All of my battles were very true to me.

I know from my heart through my change, that I can't fight with violent means for peace.

That peace only comes through non-violent means and humility.

My fight for peace is with my pen to share my thoughts without fear of being locked up in a deep dark place so no one can hear. Being silent doesn't help anybody and lets the people hurting many get away with hurting more.

Canada I am here.

Will you take the time and the heart to understand what I am now fighting for, with words and not a gun.

X PFC Kimberly Rivera
July 11 2008


Stephanie said...

Would Kimberly mind if I published this elsewhere or reproduced it?
Fully attributed, of course...

Kimberly's words are so powerful and I can think of a whole host of folks who need to hear them!

L-girl said...

Kim said it's fine for it to be anywhere - the more people it reaches, the better.

Thanks, Stephanie. It is very powerful.

L-girl said...

Perhaps you could send me a link to anywhere it runs, and I'll forward it to Kim.

Stephanie said...

I will send you links for sure!

I went to our Conservative MP Ed Holder's office today to drop off a copy of the film Breaking Ranks with a note to say I will be back to pick up the film and to discuss the issues facing the Resisters seeking shelter in Canada and especially to discuss the Four Resisters living in London.

I would like him to read Kimberly's poem.

I will drop it to the office on Monday but I will have sent it by e-mail first and I would like to include it in a letter to the editor in our local paper.

It may be a bit long but it is so compelling that it is likely (I hope) to be published.

Please give all the Resisters there our best from the support group here in London, ON.

Matt said...

I've learned that if you ask a Canadian soldier what they're fighting for, they invariably say "the oppressed, the people who have nothing, the people who need us most..."

Compassion has never been in short supply for Canadian soldiers. That's why I continue to support them, and that's why I hope they join me in supporting the resisters.

Cornelia said...

Wow, that was very good!
I also believe in helping the the oppressed, the people who have nothing, the people who need us most..." and I do it the way which is best for me to do. In a way, the point Matt made reminds me something. Some people might wonder why I am on the one hand a police translator and very much onto violence protection act restraining orders and legal redress and on the other hand very much onto helping the war resisters and also onto helping people not to have to do anything they don't want and thereby for a wide and liberal and social and humanitarian interpretation (and I would even like some legal improvements of some regulation in that way, but I don't think it would be a good idea to focus too much on that and probably it wouldn't help much either to try for that) of welfare regulations in the spirit of all the human rights and stuff in the constitution (professional liberty and social security are my points there. And I also stress the relevance of the criteria of capacities and preferencies,which are also in the regulations.)But this is no contradiction at all because both ways, I am doing something for freedom, humanity, democracy, human rights, maintaining boundaries, integrity, well-being and pursuit of happiness and against duress,abuse and bullying and intimidation and degrading treatment. Of course some might say but this is an extremely liberal interpretation. But I say I am proud and happy to be a very liberal feminist with the orientation I described about who focuses on humanism and enlightenment also, and there I take my stand.

Cornelia said...

And I like that I can do all that and lay hold of all that and all that is part of who I am and what makes me happy (or at least helps that my mood doesn't get too bad and that they can't win me out and that I can live as free and well as possible and make acontribution and be supportive and can do good as well as possible, sometimes it's just that!) and I would neither yield one aspect nor the other and I see no contradiction and I am happy there are also a lot of people who get it and who appreciate and like that and who are very supportive of that,too.