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: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Sunday, September 30, 2007


The regular baseball season ended, mercifully, today and my team ended up tied for the third worst record out of both the American and National leagues. My team, the Baltimore Orioles, now have had losing seasons 10 years in a row.

People often ask me how I can go on doing political work, with all the defeats, day in and day out. I tell them that I use baseball as my escape hatch - my way to lose myself a bit from the craziness of this world. But when your team is also losing all the time........

Baseball and life are very similar. If you get a hit in baseball 3 times out of 10 then you are considered a great hitter. You get used to failure. You learn to find joy in the small victories.

When I was a boy I played Little League baseball and I was a catcher. I modeled myself after the famous Italian-American catcher Yogi Berra (New York Yankees) who is best known as the foremost working class baseball philosopher. My favorite of all his sayings is: "You can take them to the ball game but you can't make them go in."

I have used that phrase quite often in my organizing. You can organize campaigns, put the information out there, you can organize protests, you can hold a sit-in at a congressional office - but you can't make the public participate. You have to give up expectation, you have to give up control. You have to learn to be happy batting .300

In Maine most baseball fans love the Boston Red Sox. You see Red Sox hats and T-shirts all over the place. The team Red Sox fans hate most is the New York Yankees - they call them the evil empire because the Yankees have always been good and always have loads of money to buy the best players. Tell me the average person does not understand empire!

When I walk around with my black Baltimore Oriole hat (with the bird logo on it) Red Sox fans don't say anything.....they don't give me a hard time like they would if I wore a Yankee hat. The Orioles are no threat. They probably feel sorry for me.

Sometimes I tell myself that I'm not actually promoting my baseball team with my hat but just promoting the beautiful bird - the Baltimore Oriole.

In the end though winning and losing is just a mind game. It's a distraction from what is really important in life. Can we breath the air? Can we guarantee that our children and grand kids will have a future on this planet? What about the polar bear and the people who live on tiny islands in the Pacific? What is their future after climate change? How can we stop the U.S. drive for endless war?

When it comes to political change in the U.S. today it feels like we are hitting less than .100
How great it would feel if we could hit .300 when it comes to seeking political change.

But I'm not giving up. I've learned over the years that there is always next year. Next spring will bring a new chance to turn things around. As long as I am breathing I will keep taking a swing. Now and then I know we can hit one out of the ballpark.

At the very least I have to keep trying. I have no other choice. Let me lift my head up and keep moving on.


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