Stop The Bombs International Peace Walk
Day 49 Friday April 29, 2005
N Plainfield NJ to Hillside NJ


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     We set off from the Friends Meeting house early in the morning for our 19 mile journey to St Mary's Elementary school in Elisabeth Newjersy. We had a great stay with the people the night before and we are walking further into the belly of the beast (New York) everyday.

   The walking would be much slower today as our numbers have swollen to over 65, and the wide and expansive countryside has turned into a densely populated city. There are many roads to cross and lots of traffic, both cars and people... we make an impressive sight snaking down the road.

   Tenements line the streets, derelict and decaying like rows of rotting teeth, people are selling wares on the street; everyone including the environment is hustling to live. I have never been in a place like this before, as much as I know about American 'Hoods' I have learnt from the movies. I was a bit apprehensive about walking into New York, expecting the worst I guess. But in reality it is these areas that we get the best reception and the most support.

   People come out of there houses, yelled from moving cars and walked up to us, to ask 'watt's up?' and after they find out, there is resounding support with peace signs flying high in the air. The majority of people here are against war and suspicious of the Government, and it is no wonder when you see the poverty and dispossession of the mainly African and Hispanic communities here. It is from these "Hoods' the military gets most of its recruits. Lured by the promise of education, good pay and career, the Forces seduce unsuspecting youth into the regimented world of killing and oppression. I guess that the body count from all wars, and in Iraq at the moment, is high in these areas.... I wonder how many mothers here have lost sons in this Hood.

   In these 'Hoods' live the Ethnic majority, African Americans, Hispanic etc., people of color. Often, people are unemployed or living on sub standard wages, are ill educated, under insured and English is usually a second language. They are the raw material that keeps the machine going, yet they are the most vibrant, creative and inspiring places.... people here survive buy building communities and culture. They are the real America all searching for the pot of gold, but very few will find it, instead they slip through the cracks and bust up the concrete and grow.

   Doing walks like this gives you access and insight that no tourist will ever find. You see the real people and country and bring out the best and worst in the people you meet. You get a chance to smell, feel, see and engage with life and touch the hearts of real people, you are not separated but connected with your surroundings if only for a short while.

Yours from Babylon,
Day 48
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