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.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Heading to Washington for Veterans Protest

Eric Herter picked me up at our house at 5:00 am this morning and we drove south to Portland, Maine to grab at 6:00 am bus to Boston.  After a two-hour wait we jumped on a train heading to Washington DC so we can attend the Monday and Tuesday protests by Veterans For Peace.

Three of us will be staying at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house in DC.

Veterans are gathering from around the country for the rally and march on Tuesday beginning at the Lincoln Memorial that will end at the White House with civil disobedience against America's cycle of non-stop wars and the mad waste of trillions of dollars on them.
 
I don't see much chance of any reforms happening in Washington now that the oligarchs control the government.  Our nation has become a 'failed state' in the sense that the Congress and White House only work on behalf of the rich and the corporate interests.

So what is left to the citizen to do about this sorry state of affairs?  All the doors to real change have been slammed shut in our faces.  For me the answer is obvious - we must organize and participate in non-violent resistance.

Thomas Jefferson famously said, "The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations....Every generation needs a new revolution."

I am not inclined to sit back and wait for someone else to fix things.  That's not how my understanding of history works.  The idea of democracy is a participatory activity and if we are to have a nation run by the people then the people have to make it happen - especially as we face times like these where democracy has been drowned by Mr. Big and his $$$$$$.

I don't go to Washington thinking that 'one protest' will do magic and turn everything around.  Over the years I've been asked a zillion times, "What good did that protest do?"  That's not how it works - one protest is not meant to turn things around just like that.  It's a building process where the issues get illuminated, demands made, the public is made to confront the reality even if they don't want to acknowledge it, more people get inspired to act, consciousness and movement builds and spreads.

The Occupy Movement is one example of how one action spread around the country and around the globe.  The 1% and the 99% became household concepts and those themes made their way onto the nightly news and front pages of newspapers.

In a way you could say that protesting is a 'leap of faith' - the spark is not always lit at each protest but now and then the fire catches on.

I've come to the point that I don't really worry if protests I attend are 'worth it or not'.  I do them because I believe in the issues at hand and I feel compelled to act.  I have no choice - I must stand in non-violent resistance even if there are only a handful of us.  But I've been around long enough to have confidence that when we do act together ripples and waves are created that take our heartfelt demands further into the public consciousness then we could ever know or imagine.  I've learned to have faith that things will move in a good way if we stay loyal to our own beliefs in what we stand for.

Bruce

Update:  It is 4:17 pm and our train has stopped in Wilmington, Delaware.  They just announced that somewhere ahead of us another train hit some truck on the tracks and there was an explosion.  So we are sitting and are not going to be arriving in DC on time.

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