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.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Forgive Us, We Were Fools


To those born later

By Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956)

I.
Truly I live in dark times!
Frank speech is naïve. A smooth forehead
Suggests insensitivity. The man who laughs
Has simply not yet heard
The terrible news.

What kind of times are these, when
To talk about trees is almost a crime
Because it implies silence about so many horrors?
When the man over there calmly crossing the street
Is already perhaps beyond the reach of his friends
Who are in need?

It’s true that I still earn my daily bread
But, believe me, that’s only an accident. Nothing
I do gives me the right to eat my fill.
By chance I've been spared. (If my luck breaks, I'm lost.)

They say to me: Eat and drink! Be glad you have it!
But how can I eat and drink if I snatch what I eat
From the starving
And my glass of water belongs to someone dying of thirst?
And yet I eat and drink.

I would also like to be wise.
In the old books it says what wisdom is:
To shun the strife of the world and to live out
Your brief time without fear
Also to get along without violence
To return good for evil
Not to fulfill your desires but to forget them
Is accounted wise.
All this I cannot do.
Truly, I live in dark times.

II.
I came to the cities in a time of disorder
When hunger reigned.
I came among men in a time of revolt
And I rebelled with them.
So passed my time
Given to me on earth.

I ate my food between battles
I lay down to sleep among murderers
I practiced love carelessly
And I had little patience for nature’s beauty.
So passed my time
Given to me on earth.

All roads led into the mire in my time.
My tongue betrayed me to the butchers.
There was little I could do. But those in power
Sat safer without me: that was my hope.
So passed my time
Given to me on earth.

Our forces were slight. Our goal
Lay far in the distance
Clearly visible, though I myself
Was unlikely to reach it.
So passed my time
Given to me on earth.

III.
You who will emerge from the flood
In which we have gone under
Bring to mind
When you speak of our failings
Bring to mind also the dark times
That you have escaped.
Changing countries more often than our shoes,
We went through the class wars, despairing
When there was only injustice, no outrage.
And yet we realized:
Hatred, even of meanness
Contorts the features.
Anger, even against injustice
Makes the voice hoarse. O,
We who wanted to prepare the ground for friendship
Could not ourselves be friendly.
But you, when the time comes at last
When man is helper to man
Think of us
With forbearance.                                                                   
[1940] 

3 Comments:

Blogger Lisa Savage said...

Good old Brecht, fresh after all these years.

"They say to me: Eat and drink! Be glad you have it!
But how can I eat and drink if I snatch what I eat
From the starving
And my glass of water belongs to someone dying of thirst?
And yet I eat and drink."

Thanks for posting this.

6/8/17, 5:12 AM  
Blogger erich said...

Ditto, thanks!

The Muse of moonofalabama.org, offshoot of Bill Montague's (billmon) was Brecht, as was billmon.net itself.

MY favorite while Billmon.net existed:

The Sixteen Acre Ditch, written on the fifth anniversary of 9-11 (ie 9-11-2006)

http://web.archive.org/web/20061003001814/http://billmon.org/archives/002721.html

6/8/17, 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Tom M Culhane said...

"Not to fulfill your desires but to forget them is accounted wise."

I've written about techniques the establishment uses to disorient us from (our) Nature, and this above idea is one of them.

Walking around thirsty when there is water to drink, hungry when there is food, sexually frustrated when there are opportunities (you have been given two hands btw), all distracted and bitter when you could be in harmony, is this a virtue?

A Native teacher I know talks about attuning to "the Good Vision" so you don't get swallowed up by the Bad Vision.

A related Native idea is, "the seed of the whole Creation is within each of us". Some modern physicists say something quite similar, that the pattern of the whole Universe is contained in each part. We all affect the entire Universe.

Putting it in my own words: when you take care of yourself, seek out good food, clean water, great sex, music, dancing, art, friendship, nature, rest, ... you are helping everyone. You are in harmony, in equilibrium, emanating good energy, feeding the seed within all of us, using your instrument as it is intended, playing your part in the symphony.

Your good energy might have tipped the scale where someone avoided bringing a child into a third world ghetto, avoiding more overpopulation and disease and deformity. Your mind working more clearly might have caused someone about to join the military to have a moment of insight and realize that would be a real bad idea. Your good vibe might awaken someone where they stop pumping an hour a day of media cartel swill into their mind and find better ways to get information... all people you never even met.

Especially for that very small percentage of the population that is aware of the incredible evil happening on this planet, nurturing oneself is not a luxury, it is an obligation.

6/9/17, 1:37 AM  

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