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 21, 2017

Protect Your Spark Plugs

Veterans For Peace national board member Tarak Kauff from Woodstock, NY joined us in Maine for the Zumwalt destroyer 'christening' civil disobedience in 2016

Many moons ago, while I was working for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice, we organized a weekend retreat and our guest speaker was the legendary peace activist Abbie Hoffman.  I recall being blown away by his skill as a strategic thinker and the interaction made me realize how much we often fall for the mainstream media's definition of people - especially those who are in the limelight.  The media had long made Hoffman out to be a jester and a bit of a fool - not to be taken too seriously.  Seeing Abbie in person dispelled all those media-driven false impressions. (Later I read all of Hoffman's books which only confirmed for me his brilliant organizing know-how.)

One expression I will always remember that Hoffman made during our daylong event was his warning to us that we should be sure to "Protect your spark plugs".  He was not talking about auto repair.  In fact he was talking about our peace groups and the need to recognize who our spark plugs are and to make sure we take good care of them.  He did not mean this in an elitist manner but purely in the good sense way that we should know who it is that often energizes us and helps to make our groups move into action.

One such spark plug that I know is Tarak Kauff from VFP.  Tarak has boundless energy (not bad for an old man) and is able to turn ideas into action.  He's got a few rough edges (like most of us humans) but in many ways his roughness is part of his charm.

Tarak had much to do with making the recent VFP anti-war rally and protest in Washington DC happen.  He has been a leader in VFP solidarity trips to South Korea, Okinawa and Palestine during the last couple of years.  He was also heavily involved in organizing VFP's strong presence at Standing Rock in North Dakota last winter.

Tarak puts his heart in gear when he feels outraged at the insanity coming out of the US government.  He feels a sense of personal responsibility and acts on it and his sheer energy draws others who might not have ever thought of acting.

Tarak is a spark plug.



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