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: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

CHANGING THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT WAR

This drum belonged to long-time Maine VFP founding member Tom Sturtevant who passed away in 2012.  Our chapter is now named after Tom.  When ever we gather we always hold Tom close to our heart.  In this photo his son-in-law presents the drum to our chapter.

  • I attended the Maine Veterans for Peace war trauma symposium held today in Portland.  Dr. Paula Caplan was the keynote speaker.  She is a clinical and research psychologist currently serving as an Associate at Harvard University's DuBois Institute.  She has been working to change the language we use to describe victims of war from the overused "PTSD" instead to "war trauma".  PTSD is a clinical description which emphasizes that people have a "disorder" as if they were crazy. The words war trauma acknowledge that people were indeed traumatized by an experience that was thrust upon them by our government's endless war policy and it is quite normal for them to have a severe reaction to this.  Caplan called the US a "war illiterate nation" and felt that if more people would deeply listen to veterans we'd begin to not only help them deal with their traumatic experiences but would also help us all learn more about the real human outcomes of our wars.
  • On Thursday and Friday I spent three hours each day dropping our pizza-style door hangers on doors here in Bath.  These pieces of literature share how 57% of every 2013 discretionary tax dollar goes to the Pentagon.  The literature describes how Mainers have paid $3.5 billion since 2001 for our wars and asks our neighbors to imagine how those $$$ could have been used in our state doing good things for people.  The population here in Bath is about 8,500 (2011) and I figure that we've distributed door hangers to over 1,700 houses in the community in recent days.  The weather was beautiful while I did this work and it felt good to know that this message was reaching so many families in our community.  The literature asks people to call our members of Congress and tell them to cut the military budget instead of cutting programs of social uplift.  I found that virtually everyone that I spoke with while going through the neighborhoods thanked me for passing out the information.
  • I don't necessarily think that everyone will make the calls to politicians but I do think that when we reach a high percentage of people in our communities with this message - when they see that there is some positive action around the budget - they begin to feel less isolated and become more empowered to speak out in their own circles.  I don't want to over hype this but I do think that at some point people begin to talk about this military spending issue in ways that the consciousness of the community expands.

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