TIME FOR A NEW AMERICAN REVOLUTION|
I just returned from my last organizing trip in 2001. This trip was
to home, beginning with a talk in Gainesville and then stops in West Palm
Beach, Delray Beach and Ft. Myers here in Florida. This year my travels
behalf of the Global Network took me to 27 states and five countries. I
the year reflecting on what I've experienced with many good people (and
great activists) and thought I should share my thoughts with others.
On December 6 I had to go to Los Angeles for my civil disobedience trial for
the action at Vandenberg AFB, CA on October 7, 2000. There were 23 of us
arrested and charged with trespassing on that international day of protest
to stop the militarization of space. Martin Sheen, the "acting
as he calls himself, was with us that day in 2000 and has since pled guilty.
He was charged with 3 years unsupervised probation and a $500 fine. I
found guilty in a judge trial and was sentenced to 2 years supervised
probation and a $1,000 fine. Others in our group were found guilty as
receiving one year unsupervised probation and $500 fines; several pled out
to smaller fines; several others had their charges completely dropped, and
one man was found not guilty. The thing I found most interesting in our
trials was that the federal prosecutor was joined by an Air Force Captain
who assisted her with the prosecution. The military is coming out of the
closet to reveal its growing role.
Just days ago George W. Bush announced that the U.S. would be pulling out of
the 1972 ABM Treaty with Russia. Weak complaints were heard from a few
Congress, many of whom supported Bush's request for $8.3 billion for Star
Wars research and development in 2002, and voted in favor of the "Missile
Defense Act of 1999" that gives the president the "right" to
deploy as soon
as he feels ready. The U.S. war in Central Asia continues while Bush
administration "leaders" investigate expanding the war to include
North Korea, nations that they claim are preparing weapons of mass
destruction. It's a dark picture for sure.
In my travels this year I have witnessed a level of anger and despair among
progressive folks that I have never seen before. They feel as though
have been riding a roller coaster. First the highs of the Seattle
followed by the lows of the Daisy Cutter bombings of Afghanistan. At
speaking event I hear the same question from people. What is the one
we can do to turn this madness around?
I always say that there is not one single thing - other than hard work.
there are many things we must do. We must first acknowledge reality:
that our country has been taken over by the corporations, the fat-cats, the
military. Our Congress is under the control of the rich and powerful.
We've lost our democracy. They are now chopping back our civil liberties.
TV networks have become propaganda machines for the Pentagon. Retired
generals with pointing sticks are seen constantly on CNN reviewing the
latest attack strategy in "America's new war." Hardly a
peaceful word is
heard on the tube.
The truth must be told. The time has come for a new American revolution.
We have to say that the country has been hijacked by the forces that
President Eisenhower warned us against. A corporate elite has taken
of the USA.
While in Ft. Myers the other day I read in the local paper that 300 parents
had turned out at a meeting to tell their political leaders that they would
be voted out in the next election unless money was immediately restored to
their children's schools. Class sizes are dramatically growing in spite
the fact that Jeb Bush says that he is the "education governor."
America I've seen the same rage growing as education, health care, child
care and other programs are cut and joblessness grows. The social
"lock box" has been broken into. The people are being bled to fund
in Central Asia and to pay for the new arms race in space - Star Wars.
Because of mechanization, computerization and robotics there are now
superfluous populations. People are not needed and there is nothing more
dangerous to the elite than educated, unnecessary people.
At the end of the first American revolution, the people who fought the war
were betrayed. The peasants who did the fighting were not paid as
and many of the small farmers had their lands confiscated by the new
landlords who by law were the only ones who could vote. The people
but were suppressed. They had rebelled against the king of England and
established a new democracy, only to have a new gentry take his place.
Today we see the legacy of the deceit.
We all know that ultimately there is little difference between the Democrats and Republicans today. Oh, there are surely some good politicians like
Barbara Lee and Rep. Dennis Kucinich who still fight the good fight for the
people. But the heart and soul of the Congress is dead. There is
inspiration in Washington.
If we are to survive, if we are to have small family farms and schools for
our kids, then we must support this new awakening American revolution.
we are to preserve our environment, if we are ever to have health care for
all the people, then we must call for an end to the corporate monarchy.
Our friends around the world are hoping and praying that the American people will find the courage to throw off the chains that bind us. The chains
TV propaganda, the chains of competition, fame and fortune, the chains of
fear - they all must come off.
If there is to be peace in the world the American people must throw off our
addiction to power and violence. We must acknowledge that we live in a
decaying society that pretends to be a glorious bastion of freedom and
These are not my words. These are the things I've heard people tell me
and over again as I've traveled this year on behalf of the Global Network.
Our struggle to keep space for peace is only a part of this larger American
revolution that is now in progress - simmering, growing, happening right
before our eyes.
A new American revolution begins when we say out loud what we are all
feeling or sharing privately with friends. The new American revolution
grows when we give others hope by giving voice to their growing frustration
A well-known Italian community organizer who worked with the poor in Sicily
always began his work with new people by asking them to reflect on the
difference between them and a tick. The people felt so powerless that he
had to start at that basic level. There is no doubt in America that most
people think we can't "beat city hall." How can they be
expected to dream
of a new revolution? People need to know that they are not alone in
that something is terribly wrong.
People are fighting for their children. They are fighting for education,
and health care and clean drinking water. At the same time, they support
big military budget because they think it will protect their kids from
"terrorist attacks." Our job is to create a discussion in our
communities that reaches into people's lives and shows them how Star Wars
and war with Iraq are killing their children's future. They know that
corporations control the country - most of them work for one. They need
see how military spending steals from their future.
Of course it will take years to unravel this tightly bound knot that keeps
true democracy in the U.S. locked up and out of reach of the people. Our
call for a new revolution cannot be time bound and it must be done with
love. Hatred is not an option.
There is no easy answer or easy path forward. We have to avoid despair
the tendency to hide until the storm of patriotic fervor subsides. It
determination and courage to stand up in the midst of those chanting USA!
This past October 13, our international day of protest drew events at over
115 locations in 19 countries. In 2002 we will extend the day of protest
a week (Oct 4-11) of protest and educational events. It is this emphasis
local organizing that provides the opportunity to connect the issues in ways
that are relevant to people.
Please join with us on May 10-12, 2002 as we gather in Berkeley, CA. for the
10th Annual International Membership Conference and Protest of the Global
Network. Help us build momentum for this new revolution that values the
Earth and human dignity over hate, profit and war.
Happy holidays to all of you.