Walking back to my car after a rally calling for peace at the Ohio State House on Saturday, I walked past a spot where only a few days earlier a distraught man sat in his van with a gun to his head surrounded by police. From what I understood of that situation, it sounded like the guy was at the end of his rope, in need of help and aiming a gun at his head on election day was the only way he felt anyone might listen to him. The only way he felt he had left to amplify his voice and be heard. It was his own private anarchy against a system he felt had wronged him.

Many people spoke on Saturday from a variety of backgrounds, experiences and emotions, all trying to make the same point- the Bush Administration must be stopped. With such diversity taking the stage, everyone there could find a speaker who touched their conscience, their soul, their heart, their mind. Another voice that echoed their individual thoughts and feelings on our country's disastrous situation and reenforced "I am not alone," "I am not crazy," "I am not unpatriotic or un-American to be here."

I believe it's safe to say that as individuals, each person has his or her own major reason why there should be no war. No war for oil. No war to kill the innocent. No war to support corporations. No war to take away our young men and women and return them in body bags. No war against race. No war because we don't want it on religious grounds. No war on the poor of the world. No war against children. No war because I've been there and it does more harm than good. Many reasons, each one significant to the person who voices them and the persons who agree. And many reasons give rise to a number of different courses of action. Rallies give each group a platform to get their message out, to express the why, to communicate to others that "hey we have an idea, if you agree, join in with us!"

So should we be surprised that when unrelated groups come together to speak on the same topic, everyone is going to offer a different solution? Should we condemn the groups whose ideas we consider too mild or too radical for our personal tastes? Or should we take the message each speaker serves up for our consideration and compare it to our own ideas? Are we afraid that someone may say something that would make us think and perhaps alter our own point of view? Are we afraid of people who may use language that doesn't appeal to us to make their point? Is it that we might find ourselves agreeing with someone we know we don't have the heart to follow? That's a rather scary thought right there.

Some speakers speak to educate. Some to motivate. Some prepare words and present them, others shout from the heart. Let us listen, consider, and take the actions that we consider most appropriate individually. Let us pass on to others the words that touched us and leave the ones that didn't to the people that voiced them. Consider that there are many roads to get to the same destination. Consider that every one feels the need to be heard at some point in life. And consider what you might do if you felt no one ever heard you try to make your important point.

MJ Willow