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

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

INTENTIONAL COMMUNITY - LEARNING TO SHARE OUR LIVES



















Big plans are now underway in our household. Mary Beth and I have put our house up for sale. Our friend Karen Wainberg (on right in photo) from Portland has put her house on the market. We've found a house in the nearby town of Bath and we hope to be able to purchase it soon.

We plan on creating an intentional community.

Over the years as I have traveled I've visited several Catholic Worker houses around the country. Each are a bit different. Some feed the poor and others have large gardens. Still others specialize on local organizing and taking in a family from time to time that needs temporary shelter.

Mary Beth and I have been talking for a long time about living in such a community but the opportunity had never emerged. Then about a year ago we began talking with Karen about such a life.

We started talking about the way we live in isolation from each other. My Italian mother's family lived multi-generationally and I always loved visiting them in between our moves from one military base to another when I was young. It was exciting to feel connected to a much larger community. I've never liked the isolation of the nuclear family. "Nuclear" family is a phrase that to me represents blowing up the extended family for the present system of "every man for himself" way of living.

The nuclear family is not a sustainable way to live. Each small family unit must have their own lawn mower, vacuum, washer/dryer, cars, TV's, and on and on. By living together we learn to use less by sharing more. I think our present economic system has largely been built by fostering this notion of "individuality" in the way we live - alone and heavy consumers.

It's also not sustainable to be emotionally remote from each other.

By sharing our energies and resources in community we also lessen our need to make as much money freeing each of us up just a bit to have more time to do service work in our community at a pace that does not burn us all out.

One other vision we have for our intentional community will be to invite others, not directly living with us, to still be a part of the community. By holding regular suppers and sharing circles we will explore with each other questions like these: What does community mean to us? How can we act together to build our community and have an impact on the wider world? How do we have conversion of the military industrial complex without conversion in our own lives? How do we expand our commitment to work for change? How do we share our bounty with those who have much less? How do we live as a community more gently on the Earth? You get the drift.

For me it is all about trying to integrate my broader vision of a sustainable society into my everyday way of living. I want it all. I want a feeling of community all the time - not just when I go to a retreat or a wonderful potluck supper. I want to ride my bike and a train instead of my car. I want to see military production facilities converted so they can build the trains. I want
to see people work closer together in order that we help each other through these hard and frustrating times - help each other through the isolation of the nuclear age.

For me being human means to be in a constant state of questioning and change. In a constant state of reevaluation of the way I am living and being open to new possibilities.

We are excited about our emerging new way of life.

Monday, November 20, 2006

MILITARY NEEDS MORE TROOPS

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The Pentagon is going to need more troops as the U.S. is not likely to pull out of Iraq for another 5-10 years insiders are now predicting. Thus the boys inside the military are looking at innovative ways to reach younger people to get them emotionally committed early-on to a "life at war."

Click on the link in the headline above for a short bit from a recent episode of The Simpsons. Even though quite funny, it is also quite revealing.

All across the country recruiters are now throwing birthday parties for young elementary school kids by providing military tents and vehicles for the kiddies to crawl around on. Increasingly, as local school budgets are cut, military personnel are brought in to teach kids or even take classes out to training centers for extended "camps" where they run the kids through military exercises. This is usually being done under the guise of anti-drug programs or "behavior modification" programs.

In the 1930's Mussolini trained a whole generation of Italian boys in the ways of fascism by these methods. In Rome they had the Central Military School of Physical Education and the Fascist Academy of Physical Education. These two schools were the cornerstone of the fascist system of indoctrination - rather than education - of the youths. They recruited boys from the age of 6-18 for weekly meetings, where they practiced physical exercise, received paramilitary training and performed drills and parades.

A peace activist woman I know from Maine told me a story last week. She went to visit her grandchild who is in elementary school. She thought it would be fun to go out into nature and while playing she shared with her grandchild her feelings about the Iraq war. Her grandkid immediately snapped to attention and recited the pledge of alliegiance.

The way I see it is the "war on terror" is now being transformed into the war on Islam. And this war will have no end as the corporations and the Pentagon know that in order to control the oil in the Middle East and Central Asia the U.S. permanent bases in Iraq and Afghanistan must remain open. And they must be expanded into Iran, maybe Syria, and more.

All of this will require several more generations of troops. On the homefront the powers that be know that a worsening economic situation will help steer working class kids into the military because they will have few other job options. But the best recruitment tool for the military is to create a greater war culture in the U.S. and that plan appears to me to now be well underway.

It is our job to see this developing and to stand in resistance to it at every turn. We must call America on its addiction to war and violence.