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

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I went to get a haircut today from Maria Holt who cuts my locks for free. She lives here in Bath, and has been cutting my hair for the past couple of years. Maria, a nurse by profession, is in her late 70's and is recovering from cancer and now faces knee replacement surgery. She lives in a small but cozy house up on a rise with a great view of the Kennebec River. Her son, a gardener with magical hands, has created a wonderous assortment of colors in her park-like back yard. Imagine sitting on a stool, with garden in view and frogs croaking in the garden pond, looking at the river in the distance. Heaven on Earth it is.

Maria has been a peace and environmental activist for many years. During the Vietnam War she, and a few others, opened a storefront in our small town to organize against the war. She started an alternative school, campaigned for many years against the nuclear power plant just up the road (which was finally closed down), and represented Bath in the state legislature.

Maria asked me today to share with her the latest news. I told her I didn't have any good news to report and we proceeded to go through all the bad news that is fit to make the print these days. She suffers deeply worrying that the world she is leaving the future generations is not the one she would have picked for them to face.

The photo above really speaks to me of this suffering. The expression on the young GI's face in Iraq, just weeks ago on the 4th of July, is one of sadness, depression, home sickness, and more. The hot dog and hamburger, token symbols to make the soldier feel close to home, lack the necessary condiments of family and a real sense of purpose.

As I was leaving Maria's house today she asked me about Obama. I had intentionally not brought up the issue because I did not want to burden her with my severe doubts about him. But she knows me well enough now to scratch the surface just enough to elicit my true feelings about a subject. After I shared my thoughts she expressed deep emotion about having once been idealistic but now being more pragmatic. I could hear the pain in her voice, the pain of a woman who has given her entire life to making things better only to see it all slipping away in her later years.

I know quite a few elderly activists who are in the same boat. They are seeing the drowning of democracy, one that they've worked so hard to resuscitate, and they are frantic to save it now. They know that Obama won't be the lifeguard to do the job, but have not much else to offer as a solution. They are frustrated, broken hearted, angry, and feeling desperate.

I told Maria as I was leaving that I would never criticize her for voting for Obama. I told her that I though, having spent my entire adult life doing this work, could never forgive myself if I did not stand for what I know in my heart to be right.

Maria lovingly, with a smile on her face, told me to go home. I did and I carried her in my heart.

I don't mean to keep writing about Obama but this is the subject that people are thinking and talking about. The Obama question keeps intersecting my life no matter how I try to avoid it. Since I see my blog as essentially my daily political journal, this is what I have to share. But I must also try to put the Obama issue into a larger context.

After all, I can only mention baseball just so often.


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