Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

THINKING OF KATRINA - THINKING OF WAR


These days I have been thinking alot about folks trying to return their lives back to normal after hurricane Katrina.

On the radio and on TV I've seen several interviews during the past week about people who have not been able to recover from the hurricane devastation. In their faces I see depression and in their voices I hear depression. Where are they to go now? How do they recover their lives - how do they recover their loss of community?

At the same time I've been focused on trying to get a handle on what happens next in Iraq. Now that Bush has had "his" election, how does it change the lives of the people in Iraq? So far the picture looks rather bleak. More violence and calls for another election because people felt this recent one was compromised by corruption.

My last two trips to the grocery store I ran into people I know from the peace movement. They are not in the first core of really active people. Instead they are the second or third layer of people. Good people but they both exhibited the same tendency. Depression and a sense that all is lost. They've given up hope and are not inclined to do much to help turn things around.

I get a bit angry with people like this. I don't express the anger to them, I am polite to them. I found myself telling them both the same thing. Yes, things are bad these days. No doubt we have many obstacles in front of us. But I am joining the non-violent resistance here in America, I told them. I have to act while we still can - before things get worse here at home. We need to step up the pressure.
Unfortunately, I don't think it had much impact on them.

These folks are generally comfortable in their lives and while they intellectually oppose what is going on they emotionally are unable to kick it in gear. They are my age and have made their place in the world. Getting more involved now would not hurt their careers. They use the excuse that "nothing will do any good anyway" to justify their doing virtually nothing to help us at this vital and historic moment.

When you allow others to control your destiny, because you think nothing can be done
to stop them, you are essentially signing the death warrant for democracy. You are basically voting by your own inaction for the worst case scenario to become a reality. Everyone wants someone else to come and rescue them from totalitarianism - but that is not how it works. We will get totalitarianism if those who know better do nothing....if people stand and watch the forces of darkness close in and they wait for someone else to save them, then we are all in trouble.

Abbie Hoffman once told me that there were just a couple thousand people at the protests in Chicago outside the 1968 Democratic convention. Abbie said though, that over the years he must have had 30,000 people tell him, "Hey Abbie, I was with you in Chicago in '68." This indicates to me that people would like to be in the middle of making history but social forces have taught them to stay away from the action. Don't go near efforts to save democracy from the war makers and war profiteers. So people do stay away and then create a fantasy world that they were somehow involved in the action.

The time is now to feel outrage, to let the passion burn in our hearts and souls, and allow that passion to get our asses moving. This is what will save us from fascism. We need everyone to become part of the non-violent resistance today. There is something that each of us can do. Do your bit now, before it is too late.

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