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When The World Said No To War: The Exhibition
an article by Chip Henriss-Anderssen

"What did your protests achieve?" asked the taxi driver, his frustration showing through his Tanzanian accent. "Nothing! No one listened, they voted for Howard here in Australia and Bush in the States, it was all for nothing," he said.

His response came after I began to tell him about the photographic exhibition, When the World Said No to War, a collection of photos from around the world taken at anti-war protests in February 2003. For a moment I began to believe him. I had no answer. It really did seem hopeless after the crushing defeats in the Australian and US elections. Perhaps he was right and the "bewildered herd" had completely capitulated to the power elites of our society. Perhaps there is no way people will put other human beings before their interest rates.

Unfortunately it was only after the taxi driver dropped me off that it came to me. What if Nelson Mandela had given up when he was imprisoned? What if those who struggled for womenís rights had given up? What if the abolitionists in the US had quit after John Brown was hanged following his unsuccessful attempt to lead a slave rebellion at Harpers Ferry Virginia?

Itís not true that no one listened. Only those who didnít want to hear didnít listen. And many of those who didnít want to hear actually did listen -- a lot of people, especially conservatives who didn't want to hear how they were wrong, switched from Bush to Kerry.

When the World Said No to War is more than a display of interesting pictures. This exhibition continues the struggle and is part of a worldwide voice shouting for compassion, reason and an end to the violent abuse of power called War. The exhibition needs your support to make that voice louder and to maintain the momentum for the majority of the earthís population that have no power to speak on their own. In the words of Dr. Denise Leith in her book, Bearing Witness : The Lives of War Correspondents and Photojournalists, "Although it may be difficult to envisage an end to war as a form of political behaviour, there was a time when people could not foresee an end to slavery, the emancipation of women, the vote for blacks or the end of apartheid, but these things came to pass. Not because some magnanimous government or world body decreed them to be so, but because ordinary citizens said it should be so. We need not be Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Martin Luther King Jr, or Gandhi, for none of those people effected change alone; behind each stood millions of like-minded individuals with their own acts of moral courage. Our strength lies in the recognition of this Ė our shared humanity Ė rather than in the separation imposed by the constructs of state, religion and ethnicity."

When The World Said No To War is a photography exhibition, education forum and Peace Film Festival. It opens on Wednesday, 2nd February, at Pine Street Gallery, Chippendale, Sydney, Australia.


Question(s) related to this article:

Where were you on February 14-16, 2003,

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Latest reader comment:

a brilliant article! it's so easy to dispair and loose sight of the fact that democratic forces have reached unprecedentd heights in recent years.

I was in the streets of New York on February 15th, 2003, along with over 400 other students from my university (a large chuck of the undergrad population). Sometimes, when you're in the thick of things, you don't realize how sweeping and epochal a single event can be. It wasn't until I purchased a book  called "2/15 - The Day the World Said NO to War," that I realized the scope and impact of the peace movement today. The book is a collection of inspiring and diverse photos from peace protests around the world.

If the exhibition you refer to is anything like the book, I would say it's well worth seeing.

More info on the book can be found here:

This report was posted on January 28, 2005.