BY LUCIA WILKES SMITH
Every year, for the 35 years that members of Women Against Military Madness have organized a silent auction fundraiser, they debate the wisdom of holding such an event. Does it make sense to focus on an activity that doesn’t focus on political and educational content?
Well, yes. Because a peace and justice group that depends upon donations realizes a significant boost when the one-evening event shows income of $19,000-$20,000 toward a total annual WAMM budget of $120,000-$130,000. Yes, it truly is a positive use of precious volunteer time and energies to help maintain the tangibles that anchor WAMM activism—staff members, office space, computers, telephones, copy machine. Yes.
Of course, the Sept. 15th fundraiser offered opportunities for specific peace-promoting actions. Individuals could sign the Petition to Ban Nuclear Weapons. A flyer on the WAMM literature table announced the Oct. 12th rally at Lake Street and Nicollet synchronized with a large D.C. march to “Stop Endless U.S. Wars!”
Even Nobel Peace Prize (1946) winner Emily Greene Balch would have been proud of WAMM if she had been alive and present on Sept. 15. The American economist and pacifist wrote,
“. . . We have a long, long way to go.
So let us hasten along the road,
The road of human tenderness and generosity.
Groping, we may find one another’s hands in the dark.”
At the WAMM Auction, WAMM people found one another’s hands. Again. In the midst of the long struggle for peace and social justice, against wars, violence, corruption and climate crisis. According to the printed program, approximately 75 WAMM people volunteered as planners, auction item wranglers, decorators, buffet providers, closers and cashiers, setup and cleaner-uppers to support this community-building event. In addition to individuals who donated services, about 115 restaurants, theaters and businesses responded to solicitations with gift cards or items for auction.
Again this year, the WAMM Silent Auction wasn’t silent. About 200 people greeted one another as they circulated to bid on gift certificates, handmade quilts, art objects and parties. They sat at 25 tables with bright-colored coverings and centerpieces made of gumdrops and fanciful swirls arranged around the St. Joan of Arc auditorium. They ate a delicious assortment of buffet foods and desserts. They cheered as images were projected on the overhead screen and sang along with “The Ukeladies,” who entertained and engaged their audience.
Sometimes the long peacemaking road must include gathering for laughter, music, food, fundraising and fun.