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Sound of the Sidewalk
• 03.30.12 11:00 am

The most unpleasant reality facing any earnest activist, radical, or revolutionary is realizing that sometimes the world just plain refuses to be as idealistic as we are.

I’ve been at workshops and discussion groups where some activists claim we should never compromise, while some revolutionaries say we should sometimes compromise if there’s something to be gained from it—which is actually the reverse of what you’d expect. I usually expect activists to be the ones who compromise. Usually, you can’t even get the revolutionaries to switch seats at the meetings.

But lately in the news we’ve been hearing people chant “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE,” which is a really good sentiment, but what if it doesn’t work out in reality?

Even more importantly, what if you had to choose? What if the government and corporations realized they were in trouble—but not so much trouble that they couldn’t just blow us all to smithereens as they hide in their lavish underground Dr. Evil-style bunkers beneath the Rocky Mountains and the Yellowstone Caldera—and said, “OK, guys, we’ll give you justice or peace, but not both. Take your pick.” Would you be able to decide?

I interviewed four young activists who were all walking different paths and suffering from various levels of disenfranchisement.


SCHEHEREZADE AHMADINEJAD, 33, HOLLIS, QUEENS

Sound of the Sidewalk: If you were forced to choose between justice and peace, which would you choose?
Only when there is justice can there finally be peace.
OK, well, that’s nice and all, but this isn’t a multiple-choice question, you know.
Justice must come first. Then peace will flow like honey.
So what you’re saying is that you just can’t leapfrog right over justice and achieve peace without sort of looking like an asshole?
Precisely.

 

CLEVUS TURKINGDALE, 35, PORT IVORY, STATEN ISLAND

Sound of the Sidewalk: If you were forced to choose between justice and peace, which would you choose?
I want both.
Yes, I know, everyone wants both, but like The Rolling Stones said, “You can’t always git what you want.”
But I want both.
Not gonna happen.
OK, I’ll take justice.
All right, then—justice it is!
Plus a dollar.
Excuse me?
Justice will not be achieved until you give me a dollar.

 


SARAH LAWRENCE HORNBERG, 27, DITMAS PARK, BROOKLYN

Sound of the Sidewalk: If you were forced to choose between justice and peace, which would you choose?
If we finally found peace, I believe that would be justice enough.
Yeah, but say you got a choice.
But that’s not really how these things work. Say, for example, we got peace—without even having to ask for it. In a sense, that would be unjust, because we didn’t earn it. And that would lead to conflict. And then war. And then neither justice nor peace.
So you’re looking primarily for justice?
I’d say it’s three-quarters justice and one-quarter peace.

 

RORY HARNEY, 22, FROM IRELAND BUT CRASHING ON SOMEONE’S FLOOR IN BROOKLYN

Sound of the Sidewalk: If you were forced to choose between justice and peace, which would you choose?
Drugs.

 

—SOUND OF THE SIDEWALK


Comments
  1. the man says:

    no peace no pants

  2. That slogan isn’t meant to be multiple-choice — it’s meant to be a threat.

  3. Uncle Wah Wah says:

    Pants on the Ground ! Pants on the ground! That stupid song FINALLY made it to Asia.

  4. Steve says:

    Justice any day. Evil motherfuckers need to get their dose of American Justice at the barrel of a gun sometimes.

  5. Anonymous says:

    ^^^ Anyone who thinks “evil” exists is mentally handicapped.


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