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

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Arriving in Hiroshima

The Global Network 23rd annual space organizing conference concluded yesterday after our membership meeting in the morning.  I gave my coordinator report, budget report, and we discussed our planned October 3-10 Keep Space for Peace Week.  We added two new persons to our Advisory Board – JV Prabaker (India) and Subrata Ghoshroy (MIT in Boston).  We decided to hold our next space organizing conference in Hyberabad, India in November of 2016.

We then boarded the high-speed train in Kyoto for the two-hour ride to Hiroshima.  Through the train window one can see the miles of rice paddies planted in every available space – including in front yards of people’s homes.

Upon arriving in Hiroshima we checked into our hotel and took a much-needed rest before taking a walk in the surrounding neighborhoods looking for a place to eat dinner.  By that time of day the intense heat, worsened by the pavement of the city streets, had begun to subside just a bit.

This morning I joined a few others who walked over the river (where Atomic bomb victims threw themselves to try to find relief from the burning of their bodies 70 years ago following the US bombing) past the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to the site of today’s plenary session.

If I recall correctly this is my 4th time to visit Japan during the August 6-9 period.  People come from all over the world in large numbers.  I first came in 1985 during the height of the Cold War. 

I’ll always remember my first day in 1985 having arrived one day after world conference activities had begun.  As I walked into the meeting hall I heard the hundreds of international delegates arguing with a Russian man who had just delivered a speech.  The international assembly was demanding that the Russians get rid of their nuclear weapons.  (I have never heard people yelling at any Americans for similar ‘infractions’.)  A few days later I noticed the Russian man sitting alone in the hotel lobby and I sat down next to him.  He began to cry as he described the difficulty in his country to move the military leaders toward considering nuclear disarmament after President Ronald Reagan had declared that the former Soviet Union was the “epitome of evil in the world”.  I knew that phrase well because Regan had made that speech in my then hometown of Orlando, Florida at the Sheraton Hotel.  I organized the protest outside while Reagan was pouring gasoline on the nuclear arms race inside the hotel.

The Russian peace activist that day gave me several hand made wooden gifts which I treasure and still have hanging in our house in Maine.

Words mean something and can have deep and lasting impact all over our fragile planet.  Making peace begins in our heart and is impacted by what comes out of our mouth.    


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