Saturday, June 30, 2007


"We do not want America to represent torture. ..."

Forty-nine of 140 high school "presidential scholars" brought to the White House for a photo op thought that message was important enough to break protocol and carry to the President.

Of course there was an instigator. Folks in this country like to pretend that acts of conscience are innocent, spur of the moment, spontaneous reactions to circumstances but they seldom are. Birmingham bus boycott instigator Rosa Parks didn't just get tired one day -- she was part of a group of African Americans who had studied together how they might win some basic rights. Acts of protest almost always involve organizers who have learned to actualize their values and who invite others to join them.

The instigator of this recent tiny interruption of White House political theater was a young woman, recently graduated from Wellesley High in Massachusetts, named Mari Oye. Oye explains:

"I really felt l could not just go down and smile for the camera and not say anything," she said in an interview yesterday at her home. "There are some things that are more important than the decorum of protocol."...

Oye, 18 , said her Quaker background has greatly influenced her activism, teaching her "to follow the course of what is right."...

Oye was encouraged to speak up at the White House by her mother, Willa Michener, who regrets that when she was a presidential scholar in 1968, she did not tell President Lyndon B. Johnson about her opposition to the Vietnam War. ...

Oye said her activism was also influenced by her grandparents on her father's side, who were in internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II. Her grandfather, George Oye, died this spring and she mentioned his experiences in the brief conversation with the president about the letter, she said.

"My grandfather was not angry or bitter after the internment, but he came out with a strong sense of wanting to help people," she said. ...

"With all the pain and suffering that happens around the world right now, it would have been extremely inappropriate not to use the opportunity to make a difference."

Just goes to show, kids can learn good values from their families. You'll be glad to know that a US Department of Education spokeswoman said the students who signed the letter would not be stripped of their scholar titles.

1 comment:

johnieb said...

May God continue to richly bless this fine young woman. Thank you, Ms. Oye.

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