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TDN holds Tag Day for peace

Metta Spencer — October 1984

TORONTO – On the last day of summer, a glorious warm Saturday, Toronto’s peace activists fanned out through the city with square yellow boxes and batches of peel-off stickers, aiming to collect money from passersby. “Buy a tag for peace,” we chanted. Or “Would you like to contribute to the Disarmament movement?”

For the first few minutes, it felt funny. I’d never before asked rank strangers for money, and I had to push myself past that psychological barrier. But I needn’t have worried about being considered a beggar — most people didn’t seem to pay any attention at all. Others smiled vaguely and said, “No, thanks.” A few people beamed and said, “Bless your heart dear, for working to save the world!” And one old man screamed and called me a war criminal for promoting disarmament: I’d be causing the death of 500 million people this way, he yelled. The other passersby didn’t pay much attention to him either and eventually he went away.

We had competition: in mid-afternoon a fellow in a white Terry Fox T-shirt arrived to collect money for cancer research. He seemed a bit miffed that I had taken “his” spot. Last year he had collected $100 an hour standing where I was. He settled for a place kittycorner to mine, and pretty soon a lot of people were wearing red Terry Fox stickers on their lapels when they came near me. Nobody gave twice – to cancer and to peace both. They’d point to their lapels, smile, and scoot on down the street.

I don’t think he made $100 per hour, though, and I certainly didn’t. I got one $5 bill, but most donors gave only a quarter or two. Still, I did better than average. I was handing out free copies of The Peace Calendar and holding a copy in a conspicuous way all the time. At the end of my four-hourshift I’d collected $87, which was more than double the average intake. I think it was The Peace Calendar that made the difference.

The peace groups as a whole made about $3500 that day. That’s the way we’ll get there by nickeling and diming our way to disarmament. It’s a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon.