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

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Good Day at BIW

Hee Eun Park (Silver) with message from Jeju Island at BIW today. (Photo by the Pizza King)

  • Just over 50 folks turned out today for the weekly Lenten season vigil at Bath Iron Works (BIW).  Thanks to Lisa Savage and CodePink Maine for bringing a big bus load of people from Portland and Brunswick to the event.  Lisa created and led a great skit that is being put onto YouTube as I write this.  It was cold and wet on this new spring day.  Maureen Kehoe-Ostensen with the Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm in Hope, Maine reminded us that this is now spring, even if it doesn't yet feel like it, and that under the ground were bulbs and other plants just waiting to emerge.  She said we should remember our vigils are also the seed.  Maureen invited the assembled to join the two remaining Lenten vigils at BIW on the next two Saturday's starting at 11:30 am.
  • Hee Eun Park (nicknamed Silver) spoke to many shipyard workers at 11:55 am as the noon shift change was in motion.  Hundreds were lined up in the cold to be released from inside the gates at the yard when the horn blasted.  A few were yelling at us - things like "I love war!" with a few hoots and howlers joining that chorus.  But the majority were respectful and listened to Silver's words blaring from our fragile sound system that luckily in this moment did transmit the message.  Silver told the workers that the people on Jeju Island loved them.  She cried when she said the people just don't want war - they had already long suffered during the 4-3 (April 3) massacres that led to the killing of more than 30,000 on Jeju under the full direction of the US military. 
  • The US took over Korea after the Japanese Imperial Army was defeated at the end of WWII.  Sadly, the US replaced the Japanese fascists with Japan's former Korean collaborators - thus nothing really changed for the people.  The peasants on Jeju Island resisted and were brutally brought into submission.  For many years the 4-3 massacre was a forbidden topic in South Korea under the series of US puppets who ran the country.  (If you watch closely you see the same thing happening in Ukraine today.  Same arrogant bullying to grab money, resources and lands for military bases).  These conflicts inside Korea ultimately helped create the Korean War that was all about the US and Europe imposing their control of the region for continued economic exploitation.
  • The inclusion of the voices from Jeju Island at the BIW today's event changed everyone in some way.  The important question of 'Where do these warships go?' was made real after hearing from Paco Michelson and Silver who are now on a national tour to tell the Jeju story.  I felt a shift in the people at the protest vigil.  I also felt that many of the workers are beginning to see that they must think about our foreign policy; they must think about the cost to the nation of having a militarized economy; their kids face a severe future with climate change and they should be actively doing something like speaking out to say "We want to build rail, wind turbines, tidal power, and solar - we must do it now if they will have any chance to survive on our Mother Earth!"  Where else except the nearly $1 trillion Pentagon-NSA-CIA budget will the $$$$ come from to make the kind of conversion of our war economy that is needed for survival?
  • We are trying to get the community to recognize that we need to move toward 'Plan B' now while there is still a chance.  Sadly, those with power and authority have their ears closed and their hearts darkened.  They huddle over their "New World Order" once forecasted, I heard, by Adolph Hitler. 
  • We can't just think of ourselves all the time - this every man for himself individualism is a huge part of the disease.  Silver reminded us about the need and value of community - such a love, respect and deep spiritual connection to your village, your land, the sea, all life engulfing - which Gangjeong villagers have manifested for more than 500 years.  We are fighting they say - every single day (and many nights) for the past eight years.  The people in Gangjeong village are crying out to the world to understand their struggle.  It is the same struggle everywhere.  
  • Jeju and Bath are connected - sadly by US Navy destroyers.  So let's have a real 'sister city' relationship.  Maybe we should approach Bath City Hall with a letter from Gangjeong village requesting sister city status.  The Jeju folks could explain about the soft coral forests just offshore that are being killed by dredging for the coming US warships.  Maybe the local newspaper (which ignored our attempts to put an announcement in the paper about the vigil) should print the Gangjeong letter?  We could try to hand the letter out at future vigils at BIW.
  • Folks in Bath understand the sea - the Navy dredges the Kennebeck River so they can get their destroyers out to the ocean.  Jeju and Bath have much in common - let's make it for something real! Anyone interested in that effort please let me know.  Maybe we could get letters from other cities around the world to Bath requesting they acknowledge the people on Jeju Island who are suffering because they must give up their lives and their culture so the US Navy can stick one more damn expensive and provocative warship down China's throat.


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