H2O Man's Journal
Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
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When I announced my hunger strike on Martin Luther King Day in January, I based my speech on some of the writings of Thomas Merton. Although it was a bitter cold day, the group assembled outside of the State Office Building in Binghamton, NY, seemed to find my presentation interesting. When I finished, a gentleman came up and introduced himself to me: he was a Vietnam combat veteran, and had found Merton's teachings valuable in helping him to reintegrate into society. I found myself impressed at the fact that he had become a greater type of “warrior,” doing battle with the dark forces that Merton called “the Unspeakable.”
This week, during the course of driving my wife and I to a total of five lengthy medical appointments, I stopped at a bookstore for some new reading material. I picked up two good books. The first, by Bruce Miroff, a professor of political science at SUNY-Albany, is “The Liberals' Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party” (2007). Older forum members will recall the 1972 presidential election as disheartening. Ugly divisions within the Democratic Party, added to the post-60s fatigue and republican dirty tricks, resulted in the re-election of Richard Nixon. At that time, Nixon appeared to be the lowest life form that could possibly occupy the White House; both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush suggested there was a level beneath Nixon.
Younger forum members may recognize that there tends to be focus on that election than any other in recent history. Yet the cast of Democratic characters who played a role included both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, along with numerous others who played significant roles in national politics in every election since '72. Miroff produces a powerful argument about how the older established party leaders were more willing to force the nation to endure another Nixon term, than to join forces with the younger generation of insurgents who made McGovern's improbable nomination possible.
It's not a puff piece, though: Miroff shines a bright light on the errors of McGover, an honorable leader in a poisoned political atmosphere, and his campaign staff. It's fascinating reading for old activists. More, it is essential reading for all democratic/liberal/progressive grass roots activists today. (The McGovern campaign was the first that used the “new” technology of computers in the primary season!) It's said that wise people learn from others' mistakes; most people have to learn from their own mistakes; and that fools just never learn. We can all learn from this book.
The second book I got – which was recommended by a Good Friend who posts on this forum – is James Douglass's 2012 release, “Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His Final Experiment With Truth.” Douglass previously wrote “JFK and the Unspeakable”; he is currently working on books on the murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
Douglass, who had a friendship with Thomas Merton, is an important author. I believe that both his JFK and Gandhi books are extremely important reads for those who are engaged in the struggle for social justice. By no coincidence, I also urge people to read books by and about Merton, Malcolm, Martin, and RFK.
As noted in previous essays here, I am currently involved in the grass roots effort to protect the environment – including all life forms therein – from the destructive forces of hydrofracking. Those forces include both the “energy industry” pushing hydrofracking, and the extremely damaging process itself. But it goes beyond that. As every person who has been or presently is involved in grass roots activism knows, there are frequent stumbling blocks presented by the inevitable differences in opinion among the grass roots group/groups. That is human nature: it took place in the Civil Rights and the Anti-War movements, and in virtually every social justice movement since.
Gandhi called for a New Awakening in the human potential for growth. Most of the distractions that groups face internally are the result of “personality” conflicts. People get their feelings hurt. People have fears and anxieties. People want recognition. Even more, there is rarely only one “correct” view of any given situation: for we are all individuals, who see things from our own unique frame of reference.
What Gandhi promoted was the casting of personality quirks aside, much as a seed discards its outer shell while germinating. As individuals, we need to allow our true essence to sprout and grow. Not because of what our opposition thinks of us, nor for our allies' alone. We are confronted with a form of societal decay so powerful – the Unspeakable – that can only be overcome by our very best efforts.
In New York, that Unspeakable has sought to take root by way of hydrofracking. There are, obviously, numerous other very important issues at stake in the struggle for social justice. Other states and other communities have their own Unspeakable struggles. What they have in common is the calling upon us – you and I – to bring forth the best potential within us. For, as Gandhi said, love is the only thing that even atom bombs cannot destroy.
Posted by H2O Man | Fri Mar 2, 2012, 09:03 PM (7 replies)
“The original instructions direct that we who walk about the earth are to express a great respect and affection and a gratitude toward all the spirits that create and support life. We give a greeting and thanksgiving to the many supporters of our own lives – the plants, the animals, the water, the air, and the sun. When people cease to respect and express gratitude for these many things, then all life will be destroyed, and human life on this planet will come to anend.”
John Mohawk, Ha-de-no-sau-nee.
On Friday, I was bringing my best friend & wonderful wife home, after she spent a rough week in the hospital. As we approached our driveway, the vehicle in front of us began to slow down, and I noticed its blinker indicating it was also turning into our driveway. It had an out-of-state plate, which I did not recognize.
My driveway, which is a section of an old turnpike from the late 1700s, is long. When we reached the top, I got out to see who our visitors were, and what they wanted. It was two women, both retired university professors, who were looking for me. One, who taught English and literature, lived in central New York. In the early 1980s, I had been acquainted with her; we used to be an undefeated team in a once-popular board game known as Trivial Pursuit. The other, from the southwest, I recognized as one of the top archaeologists in North America.
They had sought me out because they had read an article that Will Pitt had posted on TruthOut, regarding my recent hunger strike. They had then followed the event on the internet site, Facebook. This pair of former-1960s politica;/social activists-turned university professors had come to offer any assistance that I might need in the struggle to protect the environment from the horrors of hydrofracking.
We talked for about 90 minutes, before I had to leave to a board meeting in Broome County, to plan future actions in the struggle. I opened the meeting with a traditional “greeting” that Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman had taught me. And then, I spoke about something that Gandhi taught: that when you are doing the right thing, for the right reasons, the right people will enter your life at exactly the right time.
And so it is.
Posted by H2O Man | Tue Feb 21, 2012, 10:32 AM (29 replies)
(Note: This is an alert going out in NYS. I told the author that I would post it on DU, in hope that people here -- including non-NYS residents -- would be willing to make the requested contacts.
I have a series of medical tests scheduled next week. I'm anticipating the "go-ahead" to engage in a second hunger strike, this time at Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s office. I hope to post an OP soon that documents why the grass roots is unhappy with Robert, who is splitting the coaltion of grass roots groups & the larger "environmental advocacy" corporations/organizations.
Thanks for your support! Your friend, Pat)
NYRAD EMERGENCY ACTION ALERT!!!
Governor Cuomo says a decision to allow Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracking might be made in as little as 8 short weeks!!!
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in their RDSGEIS comments to the DEC, suggest 2 disturbing alternatives, both of which could endanger the Southern Tier: 1) - A "Demonstration Project" alternative in which up to 300 wells could be drilled in 3 years prior to adopting a statewide HVHF drilling program and 2) - A "Special Places Off Limits to Drilling" alternative that would protect NYC, Syracuse, Catskills, Fingerlakes, Delaware River Water Gap and Cooperstown Corridor but NOT protect the Southern Tier.
The grassroots are 100% UNITED: No FRACKING Demonstration Project, and EQUAL PROTECTION FOR ALL NEW YORKERS
Call and email Kate Sinding and Eric Goldstein (please see their contact info below) and
1. DEMAND that they retract the comments and
2. Publicly declare opposition to ANY Demonstration project, anywhere in NYS,
in an open letter to Gov. Cuomo.
3. Tell them to sign THE WITHDRAW THE DSGEIS COALITION LETTER
4. Request that they sign the Defacto Moratorium Pledge. Accept No Excuses: Tell them that if they are truly interested in protecting us there is no reason for them to NOT sign the pledge!!!
The de facto moratorium pledge:
Given the irreparable harm that shale gas extraction could wreak on New York's environment and public health, I request that Governor Cuomo maintain DEC's de facto moratorium on Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracturing until there is a consensus among all local, state and federal authorities as well as potentially impacted parties that the 17 major shortcomings documented in the Withdraw the Revised Draft SGEIS Coalition Letter have been fully resolved.
The full coalition letter with over 22,000 signatures can be found at:
In addition to Robert F. Kennedy's position as lead attorney for NRDC and with Riverkeeper and Catskill Mountain Keeper, He and Kate Sinding also are members of Gov. Cuomo's Hydrofracking Advisory Panel. We Need EVERY ONE of the members of this panel to sign the pledge.
Please Call and Email at least these 4 of them. Be polite but firm:
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Esq.
Senior Attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council,
Clinical Professor/Supervising Attorney at Pace University School of Law's Environmental Litigation Clinic.
Chief Prosecuting Attorney, Riverkeeper
Phone: 914-422-4343 (Pace University - please ask for his secretary, Mary Beth Postman)
Kate Sinding, Esq.
Deputy Director of the Urban Program, Natural Resources Defense Council
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo
New York State Assembly Representative, 126th District
Phone: 607-723-9047 (Binghamton), 518-455-5431 (Albany)
Senator Thomas W. Libous
New York State Senator, 52nd District
Eric A. Goldstein, Esq.
Environmental Director, Natural Resources Defense Council
Posted by H2O Man | Fri Feb 10, 2012, 02:57 PM (19 replies)
“Warriors are not what you think of as warriors. The warrior is not someone who fights, because no one has the right to take the life of another. The warrior, for us, is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others.
“His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenselss, those who cannot provide for themselves, and above all, the children, the future of humanity.”
Totank Yotank (Sitting Bull); Hunkpapa Lakota
In the past two months, I have written a half-dozen or more papers for the grass roots groups I have been working with in New York and Pennsylvania. These are pro-environment, and anti-hydrofracking organizations.
While the pro-hydrofracking politicians refer to us as “tree-huggers,” and the internal gas corporation documents I've read call us “insurgents,” I tend to view us as human beings. We are university professors and high school students; doctors and lawyers; farmers and factory workers; young and old; and military veterans and other patriots.
One of the things I've noticed in the past year or so, is that many people who are becoming politically active today, do not have the past foundation of experience that some of us old-timers have. Thus, for example, I found that many intelligent people were hestitant to write a letter-to-the-editor, or had questions about the best way to approach a politician.
I made a few suggestions. There are two basic formats that increase the likelihood of a LTTE being published. If a letter to an elected representative includes a request for a personal response, to be used in LTTEs, a politician (or their staff) will usually send something more than a form letter. People can hold small “house parties” to compose letters to the press and politician. And on and on.
We are also having the experience of having more questionable individuals attempting to join our groups. This happens. A high-profile group will attrack an assortment of individuals. Some may be shy, or lack self-confidence. Some may have the types of personality disorders that disrupt group processes.And some may be from the dark side. How do you spot them? How do you deal with them? Again, some of us have experiences from the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and beyond.
How can relatively small groups best coordinate efforts with similar groups? What tensions are normal between such small groups, and some of the larger, more established environment advocacy organizations?
Other issues ranging from voter registration drives, civil disobedience, and other community organizing and political activism, also deserve close attention. These same general issues, by no coincidence, confront those grass roots groups that are engaged in other parts of the struggle for social justice. Indeed, these other groups can potentially be united to create an alliance that is essential for us to achieve in the Good Fight.
A few people have suggested that I write a small “grass roots community organizing” handbook. This might be distributed among other pro-environment, anti-hydrofracking organizations, and potentially other similar groups.
Hence, my question to you: What types of things do you think are important to include in such a book?
Thank you for your consideration.
Posted by H2O Man | Thu Feb 2, 2012, 05:57 PM (27 replies)
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